Critics Furious Microsoft Is Training AI by Sucking Up Water During Drought

Microsoft’s data centers in West Des Moines, Iowa guzzled massive amounts of water last year, the Associated Press reported earlier this month, to keep cool while training OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4, the Microsoft-backed company’s most advanced publicly available large language model. Critics point out a further inconvenient detail: this happened in the midst of a more than three-year drought, further taxing a stressed water system that’s been so dry this summer that nature lovers couldn’t even paddle canoes in local rivers. “It’s a recipe for disaster,” Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement organizer Jake Grobe told Futurism. “ChatGPT is not a necessity for human life, and yet we are literally taking water to feed a computer.” Before the AI boom, arid places like Arizona were already facing water strain from data centers. But what will the future hold, both in those regions and in relatively water-flush areas like Iowa, as a result of the sudden increased demand for AI combined with the growing impact of climate change? “It’s already bad and it’s going to get much worse,” said Grobe. “Climate change is going to bring more frequent droughts to Iowa.” The AI era is just getting started, but early numbers suggest that it could become extraordinarily resource-intensive. Microsoft increased worldwide water consumption by a whopping 34 percent — up to almost 1.7 billion gallons annually — last year, which outside researchers told the AP is most likely due to increased AI training. That’s dwarfed by Google, which used 5.6 billion gallons last year, a…Critics Furious Microsoft Is Training AI by Sucking Up Water During Drought

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