Bill Gates Urges Caution on A.I. Energy Consumption Concern: 'Let's Not Go Overboard'

The co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, urged regulators and consumers not to overreact to concerns surrounding the vast energy consumption required to power artificial intelligence, claiming that innovations in A.I. will result in sustainable energy and carbon reduction innovations that will offset these concerns.

Speaking at the Breakthrough Energy Summit, Gates acknowledged that whilst AI data centres could result in a 2-6% increase in global electricity usage, innovations will result in a greater reduction than this.

"The question is, will AI accelerate a more than 6% reduction? And the answer is: certainly," Gates stated.

He stated that major tech companies were willing to pay a "green premium" to develop data centres with new sources of power, with Amazon claiming it will run its data centres on green energy by 2025, whilst Google and Microsoft say they can accomplish this by 2030.

However, Cornell University energy engineering professor, Fengqi You, warned that the capabilities of U.S. infrastructure may not be able to handle current data centre development, putting strain on regional power grids, meaning it will take time to unlock the green electricity potential needed for companies to be able to reach their goals.

Gates is a prominent investor in tech-focused climate solutions, through his founding of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a climate-focused investment firm that has committed more than $3.5 billion to tech startups cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

He is not alone in his optimism about AI's role in combating climate change. Earlier this month, Amazon's former CEO, Jeff Bezos, invested $100 million via the Bezos Earth Fund into an initiative encouraging proposals to use AI to combat climate change, whilst AI academic, Geoffrey Hinton, joined the advisory board of startup CuspAI, which aims to create AI-generated materials used in carbon capture and storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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