AI Models Need Water Consumption to Work that Can Create a Worldwide Water Crisis

It may seem absurd but AI also becomes super thirsty and this is proven by new research.

Generative Artificial Intelligence is bringing out a new environmental issue and that’s the water consumption by AI. Microsoft and Google have reported that the upcoming AI will capitalize a lot of major resources. A researcher at the University of California, Shaolei Ren, published a report that covers all the resources that are needed to make AI models like ChatGPT function. In the research, it was revealed that AI needs about 500 millimeters of water every 10-15 prompts. The amount of water totally depends on the place where the AI model is located. Users who use AI like ChatGPT regularly for different purposes also state that they feel like the model gets thirsty after being given some prompts.

Shaolei Ren also says that if the water issue isn’t addressed soon then any hopes about sustainable AI can go to waste. People are already sensitive when it comes to water issues as water is the most important way to survive. If the public finds out about it, they are not going to take this well. AI companies need to intertwine to give some hope to the public and say that they are going to tackle these issues. OpenAI, ChatGPT’s company, hasn’t said anything about this research yet.

The reason why AI is consuming water is because of data centers. Data centers are responsible for powering AI models but water is needed to cool them down and keep them running. Meta’s big data centers use the highest amount of water and emit a large portion of greenhouse gas. Microsoft also reported that its water consumption has increased to 1.7 billion gallons per year. Google used 5.6 billion gallons of water in 2022. The water consumption reported was before Microsoft Bing and Google Bard. This means, the water consumption of both these companies must have increased a lot in 2023 with the launch of AI models.

A Microsoft representative told a media outlet that they are working hard to decrease the water consumption because of AI, while making their AI models more efficient and advanced. He said that AI is undoubtedly impactful but it is consuming a lot of resources. So, we have to think out of the box to reduce all the effects AI could bring in the world. Google’s representative also spoke to CNBC. He also said almost the same things but also added that technology is progressing, but not at the rate everyone thinks. As technology is growing, we are also trying to make it more sustainable.

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