How carbon-emitting is AI?

Our findings reveal that AI systems emit between 130 and 1500 times less CO2e per page of text generated compared to human writers, while AI illustration systems emit between 310 and 2900 times less CO2e per image than their human counterparts.

That is from a recent Nature paper by Tomlinson, Black, Patterson, and Torrance on the carbon-friendliness of AI.  On one hand this is reassuring, though of course it should be noted that the carbon-emitting potential of AI largely comes from the additional economic activity (and querying activity) it may enable.  So perhaps we can think of this as another example of Jevon’s Law, namely that the energy-saving technology in the longer run also increases the demand for energy, thus taking back some or all of the initially earned conservation.

Via Jim Pethokoukis.



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