Company Addresses AI’s Sustainability Challenges Head-On with New Initiative That Aims to Raise Awareness, Ignite Conversations, and Identify Solutions to Mitigate AI’s Energy and Carbon Impact
WekaIO (WEKA), the data platform provider for performance-intensive workloads, unveiled a new Sustainable AI Initiative today. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the rapid growth in global data center energy consumption and carbon emissions being driven by next-generation computing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and high-performance computing (HPC). Though these technologies power critical research, discoveries, and innovation, their use is inadvertently contributing to the acceleration of the world’s climate and energy crises.
Through its Sustainable AI Initiative, WEKA is committing to making climate-positive investments, igniting industry and societal conversations, and engaging and collaborating with leaders in the political, scientific, business, and technology communities worldwide to problem-solve and promote more efficient and sustainable use of AI.
As a first step in that effort, the company announced it is partnering with One Tree Planted to contribute to its global reforestation projects, which support decarbonization and help mitigate the harmful effect of climate change. It plans to roll out additional programs over the next few months.
AI’s Sustainability Conundrum
AI, ML and HPC are powering a new era of digital transformation and insights. Large-scale data processing, deep learning, and machine intelligence are dramatically increasing the pace of modern research, discovery, and scientific breakthroughs, fueling an unprecedented wave of innovation that society has only just begun to comprehend and utilize.
These next-generation technologies hold immense potential to help society solve many of the most profound ecological, humanitarian, and business challenges – including the climate and energy crises. At the same time, these technologies are enormously power and performance-intensive to run, contributing to explosive growth in global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Compounding the issue, graphical processing units (GPUs), which are needed to train and run AI models, require a near-endless supply of streaming data to reach their full processing potential. Studies have shown that GPUs are typically underutilized and idle up to 70 percent of the time, waiting for data to fuel them due to latency and bottlenecks in the data pipeline. As a result, AI models can take days – even weeks – to train and run.
From a sustainability perspective, this presents a massive issue. Industry sources estimate that data centers consume at least three percent of the global energy supply annually. AI’s computational overhead has been doubling roughly every few months over the past decade, causing that to explode.1
“The public discourse around the benefits and ethics of AI has been robust and prolific, but rarely, if ever, does it touch on AI’s environmental impact. It’s time to change that,” said Jonathan Martin, president at WEKA. “Our planet is experiencing severe distress. If we do not quickly find ways to tame AI’s insatiable energy demands and reign in its rapidly expanding carbon footprint, it will only accelerate and intensify the very problems we hoped it would help us solve.”
Reforestation: An Important Piece In the Decarbonization Puzzle
Trees are essential to the health of our planet, biodiversity, and reducing the harmful effects of climate change. Reforestation helps to remove carbon emissions, reverses nature loss, promotes biodiversity, and is consistently identified by scientists as a critical solution that can help contribute to decarbonization in the fight against climate change.
Through its partnership with One Tree Planted, WEKA will plant 20,000 trees globally in 2023 and is pledging to plant ten trees for every petabyte of software it sells annually in the future.
“We are excited to be working with WEKA to support global reforestation and reduce the harmful effects of climate change as part of its sustainable AI initiative,” said One Tree Planted founder and Chief Environmental Optimist Matt Hill. “WEKA’s commitment to planting trees for the software it sells is a prime example of how technology companies can contribute to nature and climate-positive change for our planet.”
“Trees provide one of the most effective means for capturing and removing carbon from our atmosphere to combat the damaging effects of climate change. WEKA is thrilled to partner with One Tree Planted to support its critical reforestation efforts,” said Martin. “We also recognize that reforestation is only one piece of the decarbonization puzzle. It would be tempting to stop there, but there is much more work to be done. The business, technology, and scientific communities must work together to find ways to make AI and the entire enterprise data stack more sustainable. WEKA is committed to doing its part to help make that happen. Watch this space.”
To learn more about WEKA’s Sustainable AI Initiative, visit www.weka.io/sustainability.
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