Thirsty data centre

Is there a water crisis looming and could BIG Tech make things worse?

Water is a precious Earth resource. It is becoming increasingly scarce due to climate change, population growth, pollution and waste. Without water we are nothing.

According to some sources, Big Tech and AI are contributing to the water crisis by using large amounts of water to cool their data systems and AI computations.

Researchers estimate that Microsoft used 1.7 billion gallons of water for AI alone in 2022, a 34% increase from 2021. Google also reported a 20% increase in water usage, mostly due to its AI work. One of the most water-intensive AI models is ChatGPT, which is estimated to use half a litre of water for every series of prompts.

These numbers are alarming, considering that water is a finite and vital resource for humans and ecosystems.

ChatGPT is estimated to use the equivalent of one 16-ounce bottle of water (approx’ half a litre) for every 20-50 queries according to a study by Shaolei Ren, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California.

BIG Tech aware of environmental impact

Some tech companies are aware of the environmental impact of their AI activities and are trying to find ways to reduce their water consumption and carbon footprint. For example, Microsoft has pledged to become water positive, carbon negative, and waste-free by 2030. 

Is there a water crisis looming and could BIG Tech make things worse?

Google has also set a goal to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030. OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has stated that it is working on improving the efficiency of its AI models. Some possible solutions include using renewable energy sources, developing better algorithms and hardware, and locating data centres in colder climates.

Too much

Some argue that Big Tech and AI are using too much water, and that they should be regulated. They should be held accountable for their environmental impact.

Others may contend that Big Tech and AI are providing valuable services and innovations and they are taking steps to mitigate their water usage and become more sustainable.

Chatbots and AI share a thirst for water

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *