In this early 21st century, there is a real possibility that climate change will become the biggest challenge facing the planet.
In this context, new technologies, including technology like artificial intelligence, can represent both a significant part of the aggravation of the problem and a possible solution.
The tech industry faces criticism for the significant energy used to power its computing infrastructure. In response, the major tech companies have made data centres more efficient and worked to ensure they are powered at least in part by renewable energy.
But the computing power required for artificial intelligence landmarks increased 300 000-fold from 2012 to 2018 and, as more companies and industries begin to use artificial intelligence, there is a growing fear that technology will deepen the climate crisis.
To face this fear, some of the biggest names in artificial intelligence and machine learning −a discipline within the field− recently published a paper called “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning.” The paper offers up 13 areas where machine learning can be deployed, including energy production, CO2 removal, education, solar geoengineering and finance. Within these fields, the possibilities include more energy-efficient buildings, creating new low-carbon materials, better monitoring of deforestation and greener transportation. However, despite its potential, it seems realistic that artificial intelligence can’t solve everything.
Given the tech industry’s significant contribution to climate change, it is clear that policymakers would do well to pay more attention to the tech’s climate impact. Which brings us to a key question: how can climate policy better take technology (especially artificial intelligence) into account?
The Parliamentary Assembly should explore these questions and contribute proposals for further discussion in the national and European context.