The EU is ignoring AI’s effect on the climate crisis

(EurActiv, 17 Feb 2020) The relationship between climate change and Artificial Intelligence is one of the biggest blindspots in the European Commission ‘leaked’ white paper on AI, writes Fieke Jansen.

Only weeks after the initial ‘leaked’ white paper on AI and the EU’s consideration to temporarily ban facial recognition got media coverage, this option has already been dropped.

While the white paper still covered a range of other AI challenges and opportunities, one topic still remains conspicuously absent: The environmental impact of AI.

The white paper notes that the volume of data stored across the world — data that is used to train AI — will most likely quadruple from the current 40 zetabytes to 175 zetabytes by 2025.

And where 80% of the 40 zetabytes is currently stored in the cloud, the EU assumes that the rise of IoT products and edge computing will be a catalyst for even more decentralized storage. The paper stops there, failing to acknowledge how this massive increase in data and shift to device storage will produce a carbon footprint.

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EurActiv, 17 Feb 2020: The EU is ignoring AI’s effect on the climate crisis