A new decade have started and the winds have shifted in the tech sector with generative artificial intelligence being the next big thing. The world along with major tech companies are rushing to develop their own AI models and set foot in the market. People around the globe are either using or discussing about artificial intelligence and it benefits.
What most people are overlooking is the critical environmental issues related to rapid expansion in AI sector by big tech companies. The tech giants like Google and Microsoft have expanded their water footprint by racing to capitalize on AI, the next big wave says researchers.
University of California’s researcher, Shaolei Ren published a study this year in April that investigated all the resources needed for running generative AI models like ChatGPT by OpenAI.
In this study Ren and his team found that AI like ChatGPT uses 500 ml of water (equal to a standard 16- ounce bottle of water) for each 10 to 50 prompts based on when and where the ChatGPT model gets deployed.
As hundreds of millions of ChatGPT users deploy the chatbot for several purposes this AI model uses huge amount of water. In the study, the authors have warned that if this water need for AI model is not addressed and found a sustainable solution to, then water footprint will increase resulting is disastrous outcome.
This ‘thirst’ of water for progressing in AI sector by big tech companies can become a major roadblock in the future. In a video conference with a major news outlet Ren said, “In general, the public is getting more knowledgeable and aware of the water issue and if they learn that the Big Tech’s are taking away their water resources and they are not getting enough water, nobody will like it.”
He added, “I think we are going to see more clashes over the water usage in the coming years as well, so this type of risk will have to be taken care of by the companies.”