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Should we let AI take our jobs … if it generates less carbon? (Anthropocene)

Some researchers believe replacing human workers with AI has a climate upside. Others think the low-carbon solution is to hit the off switch.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine compared the carbon emissions of human writers and artists beavering away on their laptops, to the latest generative AI systems producing words and images. They found that the Midjourney AI emits approximately 2900 times less carbon dioxide than a US artist to produce a finished illustration, and 370 times less than one based in India. The calculation is based on the time for a person to draw an image and their average daily carbon emissions—thus the difference around the world. When it comes to writing, the same is true: a US author has over one thousand times the climate impact of ChatGPT. “Even relying on cautious assumptions, humans produce far more emissions when engaging in some of the same tasks,” wrote lead author Bill Tomlinson.

Read the full article in Anthropocene.