Energy and AI: A Balancing Act

By Jonathan Baker

Applying artificial intelligence (AI) to a variety of tasks is fast transitioning from something new and innovative to a standard, everyday practice. This raises an important question for the future: What are the most energy-efficient sources that will allow the future use of AI?

An unseen reality about AI

Energy-related concerns surrounding AI were covered in a recent Forbes article authored by Jay Bhatty, Founder and CEO of natural energy company, While many people either marvel at or worry over AI’s abilities, Mr. Bhatty points out a reality that has been either overlooked or unrealized: Utilizing AI requires a great amount of electricity. And an even greater amount of electricity is required with each advancement. What does that hold for the future?

AI ripple effect that impacts resources

The AI revolution has set in motion a massive ripple effect. To accommodate ever-increasing usage, along with proposed advances, new data centers are being constructed on an ongoing basis. Naturally, this increases demand for already enormous amounts of electricity, which are necessary to not only power AI servers but to cool them as well. This in turn will put a strain on an already labored electric power grid, not to mention the massive deposits of water needed to cool the circuits. This issue became a matter of discussion this past March at CERAWeek, a conference global energy conference.

The global perspective

The questions and concerns over the balance of AI and energy conservation were the focal point of CERAWeek. Among the points of view offered was from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who stated that electricity was the deciding factor as to whether a data center would turn a profit, calling the degree of power needed to operate AI “staggering.”  This raises the question: Are there power sources, aside from electricity, that can keep the AI trajectory going?

A natural energy alternative in an echo-friendly environment

Another factor that is top-of-mind today is promoting sustainability and limiting the collective carbon footprint. Of the main sources of electricity—coal, nuclear, renewables (like solar and wind), and natural gas—Mr. Bhatty believes that natural gas would provide the most effective solution for the near future. Natural gas can efficiently and affordably emit power and would serve as the source for AI generation until additional renewable structures are built and strengthened.

Yes, there are a few proverbial “elephants in the room” when looking at escalating AI creation and usage when contrasted against its impact on natural resources.

EGC continues to monitor the status of each development related to AI. Have questions? Reach out to us to find out how we can help you maximize AI to promote your brand efficiently and responsibly.