The world is talking about the dangers of unrestricted AI, with the UK hosting an AI Safety Summit which aims get government cooperation to avoid dangerous research.
But another danger is less discussed. Artificial intelligence systems are very energy-hungry, and they could grow from almost nothing to using half a percent of the world's electrical power within five years, according to Alex de Vries of Digiconomist.
That's a crazy rate of growth, but it's not unprecedented. Bitcoin followed almost exactly the same trajectory, expanding from nothing to a sector whose energy use is comparable with that of regular data centers. But the similarities end there, says de Vries, who provided the reliable tracking data for the growth of Bitcoin, and is ready to do the same for AI.
A year ago, he talked us through his methodology for analyzing Bitcoin energy usage. Now he's back, explaining how we can estimate the consumption of AI systems, This time round, it's all about tracking how many GPUs Nvidia can make, and seeing where they are likely to end up.
The actual figure depends on a lot of things, and could be higher if more GPUs emerge, or if they are deployed differently. There are questions around the depreciation of the hardware, and how and where AI inference is delivered.
The energy growth demand is such that some are calling for AI to show more demonstrable benefits before it is allowed to grow rapidly.
Listen in to find out how AI's thirst for power is going to affect the world.