The Solution to AI’s Growing Energy Appetite – Nuclear Fusion

The Solution to AI’s Growing Energy Appetite – Nuclear Fusion

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While artificial intelligence has been gaining immense and growing popularity, with companies releasing new versions on a monthly basis, there are also growing concerns about its disproportionate usage of natural resources and energy.

According to Interesting Engineering, artificial intelligence use is being linked with carbon emissions from non-renewable sources of electricity and for its huge consumption of fresh water. Artificial intelligence models are often trained and deployed on large clusters of servers that each consume the equivalent of an entire house.

Artificial intelligence models also use fresh water for onsite server cooling (electricity use generates heat which needs to be cooled using water-aided cooling towers and/or cool air) and offsite electricity generation (which uses up a lot of water).

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman thinks nuclear fusion is the solution, claiming it will allow the generation of vast amounts of power without the worry of carbon footprint. Altman said in an interview earlier this year that soon artificial intelligence will require vast amounts of energy to operate, and nuclear fusion would be the best bet for its source, claiming: “There’s no way to get there without a breakthrough, we need fusion.”

The solution, as Altman claims, could be nuclear fusion, which once achieved at scale could provide a cleaner and more feasible solution to the energy problem for artificial intelligence models.

Interesting Engineering explains that inside a fusion reactor, isotopes of hydrogen are heated to extremely high temperatures and pressures to form superheated plasma. The intense heat and pressure make atomic nuclei collide and fuse, releasing vast amounts of energy. While this process occurs naturally in space, generating controlled fusion energy on Earth has been a significant challenge.

While there is a lot of apprehension regarding fusion energy nowadays, partly due to misconceptions about its safety, fusion reactors produce minimal long-lived radioactive waste compared to traditional fission reactors, which reduces the challenges associated with nuclear waste disposal.