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AI will increase energy use and could worsen the climate crisis, report says 

A new study by a coalition of green groups argues that AI could also act as an agent for the spread of climate change disinformation.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) will have a negative impact on the environment, according to a recent report that argues the technology will lead to the consumption of a lot more energy and help spread disinformation about the climate crisis. 

Published by a coalition of environmental groups – including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth – the paper contends that the AI industry’s data centres will vastly increase global electricity consumption, even if the energy efficiency of such systems were to be increased. The result of this surge would be a massive 80 percent rise in global carbon emissions, the study claims.

OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman reportedly conceded earlier this year that AI would use vastly more energy than people expected. The International Energy Agency estimates the data centres that power AI will consume as much energy as Japan in the next two years. These centres and AI systems also use large amounts of water and are often located in areas that already face water shortages.

[See more: AI is transforming tourism, but experts say there are ethical considerations]

Climate change disinformation arising from generative AI was another key area of concern in the report, which noted that the technology could potentially be used to spread misleading information and multimedia material that could hamper action against climate change.

“It’s not like AI is ridding us of the internal combustion engine,” said Michael Khoo, a representative from one of the groups involved in the publication of the report. “People will be outraged to see how much energy is being consumed by AI in the coming years, as well as how it will flood the zone with disinformation about climate change.” 

The paper concluded with several recommendations, which included urging regulators to demand transparency from the AI industry and a call for the governments to set and enforce rules and standards for tech companies.

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