Navigating AI’s Eco Impact
3 mins read

Navigating AI’s Eco Impact

Ilan Rakhmanov is the founder & CEO of ChainGPT.


The advent of AI has ushered in transformative advancements across countless industries. Yet for all its benefits, this technology also has a downside. One of the major challenges AI brings is the amount of energy required to power the GPUs that train large-scale AI models. Computing hardware needs significant maintenance and upkeep, as well as uninterruptible power supplies and cooling fans.

One study found that training some popular AI models can produce about 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, the rough equivalent of 300 cross-country flights in the U.S. A single data center can require enough electricity to power 50,000 homes. If this energy comes from fossil fuels, that can mean a huge carbon footprint. Already the carbon footprint of the cloud as a whole has surpassed that of the airline industry,

As the founder of an AI-driven company in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, I am acutely aware of the environmental impact of our business. Here are a few ways we are trying to reduce that effect.

Eco-Friendly Data Centers

Moving your operations from large cloud companies like Google Cloud and AWS to companies that operate eco-friendly data centers is a great first step. Sustainable data centers are designed to minimize their environmental impact by using renewable energy such as solar, along with conserving water and reducing waste—all while providing secure and reliable processing and storage.

These companies are often smaller, and their services can cost more. And larger companies can provide grants, which makes it more affordable for young startups like ourselves to run multiple servers. But opting to use a sustainable data center can be a substantial move toward reducing your business’s carbon footprint.

Optimizing operations can enhance the benefits of this shift. We are always working to make our AI models more efficient, which shortens training time and lowers GPU energy demands.

Combating E-Waste

GPU technology advances rapidly, which means frequent hardware updates. Data centers typically replace their servers every few years. All these leftover computers, networking equipment and cooling systems have to go somewhere, and the result is a growing global e-waste problem.

We have begun an e-waste management program to make sure outdated GPUs are handled responsibly. An IT asset disposal program, which includes policies to repurpose older hardware when feasible and recycle it when it’s not, is something many businesses can do.

Charitable Donations

Donating to organizations and charities that work to protect the environment and combat climate change makes it possible for companies to offset the environmental impact of their operations. For example, we have pledged to donate a portion of our profits to organizations focused on fighting air pollution. Donations to charities such as “Protect Our Planet” from Binance, the first blockchain-enabled transparent donation platform, can easily be automated.

As more AI companies focus on sustainability, more pressure will be brought to bear on large players like Google, Amazon and Microsoft to make their operations eco-friendly. This collective demand is already producing results: in 2022, AWS launched a tool that customers can use to calculate their computing carbon footprint.

There’s a certain amount of irony in how, even as AI is being used to optimize supply chains, monitor resource consumption and promote sustainable manufacturing processes, it is also having a significant environmental impact of its own. As technology companies, it’s important that we keep this in mind and do what we can to make sure the end result is positive for the planet.

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