Microsoft Assembles Nuclear Energy Team to Bolster AI Development

JJohn October 1, 2023 8:21 PM

Tech giant Microsoft is assembling a new team to enhance its artificial intelligence operations. The team will focus on developing an energy strategy based on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and microreactor energy, to fuel AI models' energy needs.

Microsoft's innovative AI energy strategy

In a bold move to bolster its artificial intelligence operations, Microsoft is crafting a team of professionals to spearhead the development of an energy strategy grounded in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and microreactor energy. This initiative comes as the company seeks to mitigate the energy consumption of complex machine learning models, which include deep learning. These models often require significant amounts of energy due to their intricate computations and voluminous data.

In search of a nuclear tech leader

A recently closed job posting revealed that Microsoft is seeking a principal program manager with a minimum of six years of experience in the nuclear industry, engineering, or the energy market. This individual will be tasked with leading Microsoft's nuclear technology efforts to fuel the development of AI models. In addition, the position includes the responsibility of investigating other experimental energy technologies that might provide sustainable alternatives.

The environmental cost of AI models

AI models, particularly complex ones such as deep learning, are notorious energy hogs, demanding a substantial amount of resources for their computations and handling large volumes of data. The environmental impact is also significant. The MIT Technology Review revealed in a 2019 study that training just one AI model could release as much carbon into the atmosphere as five cars would throughout their combined lifetimes.

Nuclear power is often touted as a potential solution for supplying energy to AI models due to its zero carbon emissions, which could help mitigate the environmental impacts of AI operations. However, nuclear power is not without its challenges. These include substantial planning and operational times, a large carbon footprint from construction and waste management, and the ever-present risk of meltdowns. Stanford University researchers argue that while nuclear power can supplement renewable energy sources, it isn't a standalone solution to environmental problems.

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