AI’s unchecked growth poses environmental catastrophe: Industry leader warns

Addressing at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam, Tom Dunning, CEO and Founder of Ad Signal, delivered a stark warning about the potential risks associated with the failure to implement sustainable practises within the industry. He called upon attendees to take immediate action to address this pressing issue. The IBC serves as the foremost annual gathering for professionals involved in the creation, management, and delivery of global entertainment and news content.

Dunning’s remarks came as industry leaders convened at the IBC to discuss forthcoming innovations in cloud storage and production, with a particular emphasis on promoting best practises related to financial and environmental sustainability. In recent years, the demand for cloud storage has surged due to the global production, sharing, streaming, and distribution of content. However, this adoption has not occurred without financial and environmental consequences.

The costs associated with access and storage are often obscured and unpredictable. Furthermore, research has highlighted that data centres now contribute to 2.5-3.7 percent of all human-induced CO2 emissions, surpassing the aviation industry’s 2.1 percent. Additionally, AI-related CO2 emissions are substantial, primarily due to the mining and manufacturing associated with graphics processing unit (GPU) production.

The adoption of AI has seen exponential growth in recent years and is projected to maintain a 37 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2030, according to Grand View Research.

Tom Dunning, CEO and founder of Ad Signal, remarked, “Addressing sustainability concerns within the broadcasting, entertainment, and technology industries is no longer merely an option; it’s an imperative. While these industries offer significant economic benefits, they also present substantial challenges in terms of environmental impact. While it’s unrealistic to expect organisations to forgo the commercial advantages of AI, it’s abundantly clear that there is an urgent need to mitigate its carbon footprint. The prospect of AI potentially contributing to environmental degradation serves as a stark reminder of the consequences should we fail to act responsibly. The IBC event provides a crucial platform for elevating this discussion within the minds of industry leaders. It’s a call to action to educate, share best practises, and drive innovation in cloud storage and production, with a dual objective of minimising environmental impact while maximising financial sustainability.”

The session aimed to explore innovative approaches to managing cloud storage and production, focusing on transitioning from a CapEx to OpEx cost model and making remote collaboration a viable option. These efforts are intended to unlock opportunities for smaller independent studios while concurrently reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

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