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Researchers argue that AI must continue "for the good of the environment and the future"

Specialists from the UPV, the UA and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden publish an article in 'Nature Climate Change'.

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Researchers argue that AI must continue "for the good of the environment and the future"

Specialists from the UPV, the UA and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden publish an article in 'Nature Climate Change'


A team from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), the KTH Royal Institute of Technology of Sweden and the University of Alicante (UA), defend, in an article published in 'Nature Climate Change', that the development of Artificial Intelligence must continue "for the good of the environment and our future".

Last March, experts in Artificial Intelligence and business leaders from all over the world made a great call to stop the development of large Artificial Intelligence systems. Stuart Russell, Steve Wozniak, Max Tegmark, Elon Musk, among others, wrote an open letter requesting a break of at least six months because otherwise the systems could pose a risk to society and humanity.

For its part, the article in which specialists from the Valencian University participate, maintains that "great linguistic models promote research on climate and sustainability". "We believe, without any doubt, that working on the regulation and validation of Artificial Intelligence models would bring many more benefits to society than stopping their development," says Francesca Larosa, a researcher at the KTH Climate Action Center and lead author of the article. .

The reasons that the team from the UPV, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the University of Alicante put forward to defend that the development of Artificial Intelligence must continue are different. One of the most important is that the use of AI techniques for processing Natural language (NLP) is key to analyzing climate change research.

In this sense, they give as an example the analysis of large data sets on research related to sustainability and the environment, an analysis that can complement the evaluation reports carried out by the UN Climate Expert Group.

"PLN techniques can help to better understand climate change, the relationships between human action and the present and future of our planet; they will help to rethink priorities more quickly to adapt to climate change", highlights Alberto Conejero, researcher from the University Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics (IUMPA) of the Polytechnic University of Valencia and co-author of the article published in Nature Climate Change.

The IUMPA-UPV has worked on the implementation of language models and the analysis of scientific literature to find connections between articles published in specialized journals and the Sustainable Development Goals, evaluating the possible repercussions that paralyzing the application of these models could cause. .

"The diagnosis is clear: we are experiencing a pressing climate crisis and, to deal with it, we must be able to take advantage of all the tools at our disposal, because you don't know if there will be a point of no return later. AI allows us to explore a huge amount of information and show answers to many questions, helping to prescribe what actions could mitigate this crisis", adds Alberto Conejero.

"Stopping research in artificial intelligence and the development of new assisted natural language models would set back our efforts to understand and fight climate change because these technologies have become essential tools for studying complex issues such as causes, consequences and solutions. of climate change", adds Javier García, professor of Inorganic Chemistry and director of the Molecular Nanotechnology Laboratory (Nanomol) at the University of Alicante.

In addition, the team from the UPV, the KTH and the UA points out that Natural Language Processing can also be used to generate new knowledge about climate change, "given that the development of AI models more powerful than GPT-4 does not stop "This includes the possibility of analyzing very large documents, thus facilitating the identification of links and complex combinations between different written sources. AI tools also contribute to making information accessible", adds Sergio Hoyas, also a researcher at IUMPA-UPV and co-author also from the article.

In any case, the researchers from the UPV, KTH and UA recognize that the use of AI at the service of the environment is not entirely easy, since the training of large linguistic models such as GPT-3 and GPT-4 entails environmental and economic costs. Estimating how much AI contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is controversial, but in their article the team from the UPV, KTH and the UA refers to recent studies that show that, although AI helps the environment, it also harms it .

Training GPT-3, for example, with 175 billion parameters, is equivalent to 188 times the CO2 emissions of a one-way flight from New York to San Francisco. But at the same time, AI models help optimize energy consumption and increase efficiency in high-emission sectors.

"In any case, in a balance between benefits and harms derived from AI, we believe that the impact of not taking advantage of techniques such as natural language processing would be very negative. Why would you restrict yourself to using the latest technology when you have a urgency like this? The Future of Life Institute seems to have ignored the problem of climate change. Stopping Artificial Intelligence does not help in the least in the fight against this climate crisis," concludes Alberto Conejero.