America’s struggling energy grid will hinder AI’s development

The past year has seen exponential advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, expanding practical uses and benefits. Big Tech companies like Google and OpenAI have invested millions of dollars in developing their AI models, making impressive strides in little time. However, these companies may soon be facing the biggest obstacle in AI: America’s energy grid, which is struggling to keep up with Big Tech’s ravenous demand for electricity.

As Tom Magness highlights in a recent piece for Townhall, America is facing the greatest increase in energy consumption since the 1990s, and AI is a prime cause. Large AI models alone consume electricity equivalent to 1,450 U.S. households per month, and that consumption will increase exponentially as it becomes more integrated in Americans’ daily lives. As a result, companies that manage electrical grids are warning that America’s current energy infrastructure needs massive investment to meet these demands.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration is creating numerous obstacles to the necessary improvements for the electrical grid. It has done nothing to address the bureaucratic red tape that hinders the development of new energy facilities, while new regulations on gas-powered plants have put unnecessary strain on the grid. Without a strong energy grid, AI development faces severe challenges.

If a struggling energy grid halts AI development, then America will miss out on the numerous benefits AI can provide. Take, for example, the U.S. medical field, where AI has become a vital partner to doctors for diagnosing and treating patients, improving health outcomes for all. AI has even become a critical tool for cancer researchers: In 2021, the FDA authorized the use of AI software for cancer identification. The future holds incredible potential for AI technology, but that future could be in jeopardy if the U.S. energy grid fails.

Big Tech has already begun investing in renewable energy sources to meet their growing demands, but these efforts won’t be enough. Though investing in renewables is an important step, America needs energy infrastructure that incorporates all sources of energy, including oil and gas.

If America is going to rebuild its struggling energy grid, then this administration must take steps towards achieving that goal, such as cutting bureaucratic red tape that is stalling energy permits and eliminating burdensome regulations on power plants.  As Magness points out in his piece, Big Tech’s interest in energy permitting reform may be the catalyst needed to finally drive Congress and President Biden to take action on this important issue.  

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