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The Blockchain Can Create a Greener Future for AIby@getxlocal
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The Blockchain Can Create a Greener Future for AI

by GETX LOCALOctober 24th, 2023
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Artificial intelligence is one of the biggest technology trends in history, so the industry must ensure that it has an optimal head start. Solving any issues during its early days will pave the way for better adoption rates and guarantee success. The cornerstone is the integration of sustainable practices. If artificial intelligence is compatible with environmental protection, it can also become more feasible and deliver better results.
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Artificial intelligence is steadily developing, becoming the center of discourse and a crucial debate topic among both experts and members of the general public. For some, the future of complete automation isn’t far away. In contrast, others are more reticent and call for more awareness regarding the possible issues the technology might bring, such as privacy violations, socioeconomic inequality, algorithmic biases and the use of deepfakes.


While some discuss the possibility of AI reaching singularity in as few as five years or perhaps even less, other voices describe this scenario as pure science fiction, concluding that it will always be human beings dealing with the brunt of the decision-making. There’s no denying the potential AI can have to make the world a better, safer, more efficient place. For instance, firefighters have begun using AI-powered systems to better estimate the risk of wildfires, as well as respond to them promptly.


As climate change remains a considerable issue, the figures estimate that artificial intelligence could reduce emissions by roughly 4%. But is AI itself sustainable now, or does it still have some way to go until earning this definition for itself? This is an area where the blockchain might be able to offer a helping hand.


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The blockchain

Much like artificial intelligence, the blockchain operates by using large amounts of data. The system is shared among a network’s nodes and holds records and transactions that are fully decentralized. Generally, the blockchain is seen as a place where to buy Bitcoin, but research shows that it isn’t limited to cryptocurrencies. The main advantage of the blockchain is that it makes the information entered into the system completely immutable. That means that it cannot be altered or modified in any way, as well as deleted.


Using the blockchain means improving security and ensuring all records’ safety and integrity, creating more transparent, trustworthy processes. The network is different from the classic databases or spreadsheets because of the way in which the data is stored. Within the decentralized ledger, the information is stored within blocks that are linked together through the use of cryptography. Scripts are used to enter and later access information.


The blockchain is fully distributed, and there are many copies saved on different computers. For them to be valid, they must all match. The blocks are chained together through the hash. This hexadecimal number results from an encryption algorithm that goes through all the data in a completed block. The same hash then acts as the header of the following block, creating a cohesive chain, hence the name of the system.

The issues

Many popular AI tools like Chat GPT use graphics processing units to complete their calculations. Whenever someone asks the system a question, several devices in a data center amp up their processes to determine the answer. This naturally results in more considerable energy consumption, as well as the use of more water for cooldowns and to keep the computers running. The older models need roughly 500ml to come up with answers for every twenty questions. Since there’s a lot of interest in artificial intelligence at the moment, there’s also an overload of computational power. Cloud computing hosts websites and provides the necessary infrastructure for applications and highly efficient computing systems. The global cloud infrastructure already has a higher energy expenditure than the travel industry during pre-pandemic levels, as well as that of some countries.


Recent studies have also shown that deep learning systems are also highly unsustainable and have large carbon footprints. Some can consume as much as five vehicles. This has drawn comparisons to the fossil fuel industry. Similar to data, oil is also a lucrative commodity once extracted and refined. Unfortunately, the other similarity is that both harm the environment. When considering all these aspects and when you realize that there’s a growing number of institutional and private AI users that will drive demands up, it becomes imperative for AI to become more sustainable to eliminate the risk of any potential damage.

The improvements

So, how exactly can the blockchain help abate these issues? One of the fundamental indicators lies in the mining process, particularly Bitcoin mining. Climate activists have targeted this relatively young and yet vibrant industry in the past due to its energy-intensive processes. Now, the market gets roughly 60% of its energy from renewable sources. The mining facilities that use either eco-friendly or untapped sources that can provide clean energy have begun accommodating their business strategies to meet the needs of artificial intelligence as well.


If similar energy providers joined forces, the result would be the creation of a system that is not only environmentally friendly but can also support cost-saving schemes. Consumers are more likely to be attracted by a system that provides this functionality. Since the blockchain has a reputation for transparency, it could also be used to introduce a fully automated mechanism that ensures the allocation and management of carbon credits. This solution could act as an incentive, supporting the development of specialized infrastructure and propelling the adoption rates to meet the demand.


There are currently networks that carry out their procedures on the blockchain, which are looking to speed the usage of cloud computing in both AI and Web3. Their expertise includes using scalable cloud resources and decentralized apps, completing the requirement for creating sustainable GPU tech. Scaling is another issue the blockchain can solve through workload distribution across several data centers.


This system serves to reduce expenses as well by adopting creative and resourceful solutions such as using excess heat from data centers or using resources from idle machines. Developments in this sector could also find ways to mitigate other concerns, such as limited processing power. Unlike centralized systems, where data breaches result in massive shutdowns, the possibility of failure is minimized with the blockchain.

The bottom line

Artificial intelligence is one of the biggest technology trends in history, so the industry must ensure that it has an optimal head start. Solving any issues during its early days will pave the way for better adoption rates and guarantee success. The cornerstone is the integration of sustainable practices. If artificial intelligence is compatible with environmental protection, it can also become more feasible and deliver better results.