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Will AI’s insatiable energy needs bring about the end of the world?

Summarised by Centrist

The need for advanced AI computing power continues to grow exponentially and along with it is the need for energy to power that growth. Given humanity’s track record for peacefully managing scarce resources, how is this going to turn out?

Professor Shelly Palmer analyses the potential risks associated with “AI addiction” as its use rapidly permeates society at every level. Palmer says the surge in AI’s power consumption is set to compete with other sectors, like electric vehicles, for available energy resources. He focuses on chip shortages and increased power demands and says AI development must be balanced with an eye towards sustainability.

Microsoft and OpenAI’s ambitious plans to build a $100 billion supercomputer named “Stargate,” indicates the industry’s anticipation of escalating demand for AI-focused “compute” resources. Also, rapid growth in AI infrastructure may lead to semiconductor shortages, especially for advanced chips critical to AI systems.

Palmer warns of a dystopian future where humanity’s addiction to AI leads to resource conflicts and environmental strains. 

“(H)umanity inadvertently creates a system that consumes overwhelming resources, in this case, electricity and semiconductor manufacturing capacity, to sustain AI’s growth. And so the world ends not from a malevolent AI system hell-bent on destroying humanity, but by humanity destroying itself by fighting over the resources to serve its addiction to AI,” he says. 

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