A Robot Wrote This Article

Written by Karyll Tan

Illustrated by Iris Fernando

Meep morp, beep, We r t4k1ng Over th3 WorLD. I’m just kidding. You probably read the title and imagined a white robot fashioned from metal scraps lounging on a chair typing out this article on a laptop. I wish that was how this article was written but this isn’t Star Wars  and I’m sure that it’d be much more expensive to assemble a physical robot when you can create a digital version. Oh wait, we already have that! It’s called Artificial intelligence.

From industrial machines to computers to virtual assistants and self-driving cars, artificial intelligence has come a long way however, its evolution doesn’t stop there. The latest Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) such as ChatGPT and Notion AI are in our midst, serving as one of the most powerful AIs proficient enough to mimic the human brain!

For instance, ChatGPT is basically your own personal AI buddy, kinda like having R2-D2 or BB-8, but without the cute beeps and boops. It’s a language model that’s been trained on a ton of text data, so it knows all sorts of things about all sorts of stuff.

On the other hand, you know how you’re always forgetting stuff, like where you put your keys, what you were supposed to do today, or what your own name is sometimes? Well, Notion AI is like the ultimate brain extension for people like us!

To amplify how amazing Artificial Intelligence is, the last two paragraphs you just read are written by ChatGPT itself! I just gave it the command to “Create a casual explanation for ChatGPT and Notion AI”, and it started typing a whole bunch of words. It seemed so convincing of a human’s that it could practically replace a journalist by itself. 

Some might think it’s fascinating while others may find it scary. You may even surmise that they’re smarter than humans with their capability to practically answer every question, mimic conversational human language, and create ideas without a thought. However, can they give opinions, process human emotions, empathize, express a stand on a social issue, and most importantly, make ethical decisions?

With the rising issue of increasing carbon emissions released into the environment, is artificial intelligence a good technological evolution that can co-exist with a good environmental state? 

Thinking With A Click

Before we dive deep into our question, we first have to get to know the two main characters we are dealing with. Two strong contenders of artificial intelligence: ChatGPT and NotionAI have fascinated the digital world with their powerful features which have redefined convenience in technology. 

If machines can perform tasks for us, artificial intelligence can think for us! Now if you’ve watched the horror movie M3GAN, it will seriously shake you to your core. One might imagine that these robots are out to get us but they’re really not! Think of all the possibilities these digital machines can do for our own evolution! 

ChatGPT draws knowledge from training and self-supervised learning methods through data collection, reprocessing, training, testing, and deployment created by the company OpenAI.1 Likewise, Notion AI performs a similar kind of training programmed by the start-up company Notion Labs Inc.2

The more training it undergoes, the greater the data that is powered, processed, and stored generating more accurate and human-like responses from the bot. 

AI training costs an estimated amount of $1.4 million3 daily, allowing ChatGPT to write code and articles, solve arithmetic equations, translate sentences, generate ideas, and even as far as creating problem sets! 4 

On the other hand, Notion AI is gauged to be, quite possibly, the best virtual working assistant.5 It can perform several functions such as coming up with outlines, correct spelling, and grammar, summarizing long paragraphs, translating, explaining, brainstorming, and accomplishing a variety of other features beneficial to creating a productive work environment! 

Artificial Intelligence with a Green Thumb? 

When people talk about how Artificial intelligence is made, the monetary cost of running the digital product is the primary concern of the conversation. People fail to consider the price the environment pays to run such a technological innovation. Therefore, the question we should be asking now is, can modernity and the environment meet eye to eye? 

With the large amounts of data processed daily through artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT and NotionAI, its energy consumption is significantly larger than any other machine. 

Although Artificial Intelligence does not emit carbon dioxide directly, its carbon footprint is garnered through the amount of electricity it consumes, the carbon intensity of this electricity, and its source. 6   

An estimate of 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted daily just by training an AI model, 5 times more than the carbon emission of an average car, and is equivalent to a round-trip flight 125 times from New York to Beijing! How much more is the carbon impact when more GPTs are released in the market? 

The lack of a standard measurement of the energy consumption and carbon emission of Artificial Intelligence is the main enigma in quantifying the issue. How much carbon footprint does it take to run Artificial intelligence exactly? Only by determining this can a solution be created. 

Call me an optimist but I believe that our own inventions can solve our own problems. Just as stated by Lambert Hogenhout, the Chief Data Analytics for Partnerships and Technology Innovation at the Office for Information and Communications Technology, “The most urgent need in this context is not to have more powerful AI but to become smarter at where and how we use AI. There are so many unexplored opportunities.” 7 

In light of an AI’s proficiency in utilizing patterns, learning algorithms and performing calculations, it has the potential to assess present environmental problems such as extreme climate changes in various geographical locations, global warming, sources of carbon emitters as well as the socio-economic effects of these environmental conflicts. 

Having this information in our hands allows leaders, environmentalists, and biologists to create laws, environmental policies, and copious solutions to our climate crisis. A good example of this is The Framework for Using AI in Combating Climate Change as developed by the BCG Project Experience which reiterates the uses of AI in mitigating Climate Change. 8 

FIGURE 1: Framework for Using AI to Combat Climate Change BCG PROJECT EXPERIENCE, CLIMATE CHANGE AI, GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP ON AIThe framework reiterates necessary steps in combatting climate change such as mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and fundamentals. 

Mitigation recognizes small and large-scale sources of carbon emissions and states important ways in which the effects of climate change can reduced which is through the removal of greenhouse gases environmentally and technologically. 

Adaptation and resilience serve as a warning and defense mechanism for humans against climate change while fundmentals emphasizes the importance of education, finances, and research in crafting a solution to climate change.

Alongside this, the framework divulges the uses of AI within this action plan against climate change with emphasis on the optimization of different kinds of data, planning and making decisions based on gathered data, and communication through sharing of information gathered from AI. 

Recognizing the benefits of Artificial Intelligence in mitigating our climate crisis doesn’t erase the fact that it is still a contributor to the crisis itself. Therefore, we ask ourselves, can sustainable artificial intelligence be a thing of the future? 

Don’t worry because the answer is yes! There have been numerous efforts to utilize green energy such as renewable energy sources: wind, solar and geothermal energy to power Artificial Intelligence and we’re here for it! 

With the evolution of Generative Pre-trained Transformers, artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT and Notion AI, there’s no doubt that companies like Open AI would focus on releasing more sustainable digital products to minimize the carbon footprint left by ChatGPT itself. 

As for us? We must learn to be responsible users of technology by respecting the policies and rightful purpose of the platform. Instead of treating AI as a replacement for the human brain, it must simply augment and serve as an extension of it. 

We must utilize the data garnered from these artificial intelligence morally and ethically and it is only then can we truly utilize AI to its fullest potential. 




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