The hidden environmental cost of AI in publishing - Mo Fanning Author
AI - artificial intelligence in publishing

The hidden environmental cost of AI in publishing

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are becoming more common in the publishing industry, from writing and editing to production and marketing. But these helpful digital assistants have a significant environmental impact?

I’m not going to write yet another piece about copyright and how machines are taking work away from independent editors and designers. If that’s your bag, hit up Google.

The systems running ChatGPT and Claude consume vast amounts of electricity. The data centers that power AI are expected to use 8% of all US electricity by 2030 – that’s triple what they use now. Using an AI chatbot takes about ten times more electricity than a Google search.

Stay dirty

This growing demand for power is slowing down the switch to clean energy. Some coal power plants will need to stay open longer, and we’re extracting more natural gas to meet the demand. Forget about Russian plots to shut down power stations, there’s a genuine risk of self sabotage with AI putting strain on our electricity grids.

It’s all very well trumpeting our use of recycled paper eco-friendly ink. Print-on-demand is far less wasteful than printing and pulping the latest Liz Truss memoir. But publishers using AI tools to create or promote books, might be undoing that good work.

AI solution seekers

Some tech companies are trying to find solutions. Microsoft, for example, is looking into new clean energy sources like fusion power and small nuclear reactors.

But what can the publishing industry do?

First off, we all need to be aware that AI tools, while super useful, are a million miles away from being environmentally neutral. We should choose to work with AI companies that use renewable energy and efficient data centres. Above all else,  consider the environmental impact alongside the benefits when deciding whether to use AI tools. It might be cheaper to get Claude to write your back cover blurb, but is it … is it really?

AI has brought many positive changes to publishing, making some tasks easier and opening up new possibilities. As we embrace these new technologies, we need to be mindful of its environmental impact .

Free copy of The Armchair Bride by Mo Fanning

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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