Energy Consumption: “ChatGPT” Exacerbates Environmental Issues

The “Guardian” newspaper has revealed that massive physical data centers consume enormous amounts of energy and significantly harm the environment. Large language models like “ChatGPT” are considered among the most energy-consuming technologies.

One study suggested that around 700,000 liters of water might have been used to cool the machines that trained ChatGPT-3 in Microsoft’s data facilities. This is one of the negative aspects of the tech industry’s self-glorification bubble, along with tax evasion, privacy violations, and exploiting public interest.

The environmental impact of this industry is a major issue. However, the newspaper noted that companies producing such models have remained remarkably silent about the amount of energy consumed, probably to avoid raising concerns.

It was highlighted that the infrastructure used by the “cloud” is responsible for more global greenhouse gas emissions than commercial flights.

Google’s global data center and Meta’s ambitious plans to create a new AI research group underline the energy-intensive nature of this industry, raising fears that these facilities could significantly increase energy consumption.

Additionally, as these companies aim to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, they might choose to locate their data centers in regions with cheaper electricity, like the southern United States, which could exacerbate water consumption issues in the driest parts of the world.

The newspaper considered that tech companies need to be transparent and disclose the resources required for their expansion plans before making big announcements.

Furthermore, while minerals like lithium and cobalt are commonly associated with automotive batteries, they are also essential for batteries used in data centers. The extraction of these minerals often involves significant water use and can lead to pollution and compromise water security.

It added that the extraction of these minerals is also frequently linked to human rights violations and poor labor standards. Attempting to achieve one climate goal, namely reducing dependence on fossil fuels, can harm another goal, ensuring safe water access for all.

Moreover, when large energy resources are allocated for technological purposes, it can lead to energy shortages for meeting basic needs such as residential power supply.

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