back to article AI processing could consume 'as much electricity as Ireland'

The recent spike of interest in AI thanks to large language models (LLMs) and generative AI is pushing adoption of the tech by a wide variety of applications, leading to worries the processing needed for this will cause a surge in datacenter electricity consumption. These concerns are raised in a paper by Alex de Vries, a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Funny no one says nothing about climate change when it comes to shiny new tech, be it hardware or sofware, the resources needed to produce it or operate it.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      "Funny no one says nothing about climate change when it comes to shiny new tech, be it hardware or sofware, the resources needed to produce it or operate it."

      Actually, a lot of researchers and activists are looking into it, the topic of this article being but one example!!

      And generally speaking, there isn't much wrong with increased datacenter power consumption in and of itself - as human technology develops, we are going to consume more energy, and as IT becomes more advanced it's normal that information processing is going to increase it's percentage of total consumption with respect to, for example, heavy industry. What we need to make sure is that we are able to meet the increased power demands using renewable and clean power and distribution technologies.

      (it is, of course, depressing that a large part of the computational power is going to personal data tracking* and cat videos**)

      *This, at least, we can legislate against

      ** inevitable

  2. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    "Boffins estimate power needed if every Google search became an LLM interaction."

    Good to see the boffins are back!

  3. jake Silver badge

    Thank goodness for electric vehicles!

    Google will be able to use all that extra power made available when the entire planet has electric cars!

    Oh, wait ...

  4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    New Reg unit?

    1 Ireland = "29.3 TWh per year", 3.34 GWa, or 105PJ per year.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: New Reg unit?

      Strictly speaking, I think it's 1 Éire

      [says the half-Welsh girl with an incomplete command of her own mother tongue]

  5. deadlockvictim
    Trollface

    The Irish like being cold

    And the Irish will be happy to make that sacrifice. They don't mind giving up their electricity to data-centres.

    They understand how important it is that people's Instagram posts are instantly available.

    Indeed, being cold reminds them of the life under Garret Fitzgerald and during Austerity (thanks Brussels!).

    Fine Gael governments have that effect on the Irish.

    And the Irish government gets to take in more money in the form of corporate taxes.

    So everyone is happy.

    1. deadlockvictim

      Re: The Irish like being cold

      In case anyone should accuse me of being party political, Iet me say that FG couldn't have done it without the invaluable groundwork laid out by the preceding Fianna Fáil governments.

      Garret Fitzgerald's miserable rein as taoiseach was nicely set up by Jack Lynch and his give-away budgets. Even Charlie Haughey had difficulty [1] with the mess Jack Lynch left him.

      Enda Kenny's government had the mess left by Bertie Ahern & Brian Cowen's approach to regulation (euphemistically called 'light').

      [1] But not personally, you understand. The tightening of belts is what other people do.

    2. Ken G Silver badge

      Re: The Irish like being cold

      I'm Irish and I can confirm that it's been much too warm until recently. This is why we need to stop Global Warming.

      I just hope no-one makes the connection that 'AI' is just Irish lads answering the world's question with shit they make up on the spot.

  6. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    At least AI can be useful...

    ...unlike the horrific amount of power crypto uses, and it's well known that crypto has no known real-world purpose

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: At least AI can be useful...

      And all the streaming services.

      Recently flew to the US of A and every seat now has an android tablet in the headrest that gets f-f-f-ing HOT and somewhere on the plane is a server spewing out streams to every one of those seats.

      How much fuel would the plane save if it wasn't lugging around all that extra weight and didn't have to supply electricity to it?

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: At least AI can be useful...

        "How much fuel would the plane save if it wasn't lugging around all that extra weight and didn't have to supply electricity to it?"

        - both the weight and power consumption of 1 tablet per seat are negligible compared to the weight and power of a jet aircraft / engine*

        - in any case, long-haul flights have had screens showing in-flight movies for decades. Running an extensive streaming service on-board vs a selection of a half-dozen movies isn't changing the weight or power requirements much

        * I am actually not completely sure that's how it works on a plane, but I'm assuming that there is some mechanism similair to a car generator whereby some of the engine power can be harvested for the electrics.

  7. Tron Silver badge

    That's shocking.

    We get loads of amusing snafus courtesy of AI, and there will be many more howlers going forward as it is flawed tech favoured by idiots.

    Ireland gave us the wonderful 'Father Ted' but not much since.

    So, in cost/benefit terms, there is a clear case for cracking down on Ireland's use of electricity.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: That's shocking.

      "Ireland gave us the wonderful 'Father Ted' but not much since."

      To be fair, Ireland produces some rather palatable whiskeys. And a properly cared for pint of Guinness is well worth traveling for.

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