AI will ‘burn the world’ unless radical action is taken to embrace sustainability, according to a leading industry figure.

Tom Dunning, CEO and founder of Ad Signal, warned of the risks posed by failing to implement sustainable practices, calling on the industry to take urgent action to tackle the problem.

Dunning’s comments were made at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. where industry figures gathered to discuss upcoming innovations in cloud storage and production to help promote best practices for financial and environmental sustainability. 

In recent years, demand for cloud storage has surged due to global content production, sharing, streaming, and distribution. However, its adoption does not come without financial and environmental costs.

Access and storage costs are not always transparent or predictable, and some research has revealed that data centres are now responsible for 2.5-3.7 per cent of all human-induced CO2 emissions – more than the aviation industry at 2.1 per cent. AI-related CO2 is also high due to the mining and manufacturing associated with graphics processing unit (GPU) production.

The growth and adoption of AI has skyrocketed over recent years and is projected to grow at a 37% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2030, according to Grand View Research.

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“Addressing sustainability concerns in the broadcasting, entertainment, and technology industries is not just a choice, but now a necessity. While these industries host immense benefits for the economy, they also present significant challenges in the context of environmental impact,” said Dunning.

“While we can’t expect any organisation to give up the commercial benefits of AI, it is clear that there’s an urgent need to minimise its carbon impact. The notion that AI could potentially burn the world arises – a stark reminder of the environmental consequences if we fail to act responsibly.”

Based in York, Ad Signal is a SaaS and bespoke development company specialising in the broadcast and advertising industries.

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