Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to significantly improve our lives and tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. However, the development and use of AI also raise concerns about the negative impacts on the environment, particularly with regard to the massive computational resources required. This report seeks to improve our understanding of the environmental impacts of AI and provide guidance on how to measure and mitigate these impacts while still harnessing AI’s potential for the good of the planet.
Distinguishes between the direct environmental impacts of developing, using, and disposing of AI systems and related equipment, and the indirect costs and benefits of using AI applications. The direct impacts include the energy and resources required to manufacture, operate, and dispose of AI systems, as well as the emissions and waste generated throughout their life cycle. The indirect impacts, on the other hand, relate to the environmental effects of AI applications, such as reducing energy consumption, optimizing transportation systems, and improving resource management.
To address the environmental impacts of AI, the report recommends the establishment of measurement standards to enable more accurate tracking of the energy use and emissions associated with AI systems and applications. This includes expanding data collection efforts to cover the full life cycle of AI, from development to disposal, and identifying AI-specific impacts that may not be captured by current environmental assessments.
Suggests that policy makers need to look beyond just operational energy use and emissions, and consider the broader environmental and social implications of AI. This includes considering the potential impacts of AI on the labor market, privacy and security, and broader societal impacts such as increased inequality.
Finally, highlights the need for greater transparency and equity in AI development and deployment. This includes promoting open access to data and algorithms, as well as ensuring that the benefits of AI are distributed fairly across different groups and regions.
Overall, underscores the importance of taking a holistic approach to understanding and mitigating the environmental impacts of AI. By addressing these issues, policy makers can ensure that AI is developed and deployed in a way that supports sustainability and benefits society as a whole.