1. What does green energy have to do with AI?
“AI is very energy-intensive. A tool like Chat GPT needs to be "trained" to learn information. Think of it as a doctor with 30 years of experience. You can ask them a question and get an extensive answer, but it took 30 years of education to get to this point. AI training is based on the same principle, but in a shorter amount of time. All this data processing takes an enormous amount of power, especially on a large scale.
Because it requires so much power, it has a big impact. Normally, all this energy generates heat, which is wasted. We make sure that the generated heat is not wasted, but is reused to replace fossil fuels in heating buildings. Running on green energy and using it twice!”
“AI displays existing ideas, it cannot come up with new ones on its own. Not yet, anyway.”
2. There must be easier ways to live more sustainably?
“This comparison might clarify it: Chat GPT runs on 10,000 processors. The emissions from one such processor in a data center in one year are comparable to driving 10,000 kilometers.
For most, it will not be an obvious way to "make the world greener", but it's something we encountered in our field.A lot of heat is generated in a data center, after which air conditioning is used to cool it down. Being a thermodynamicist, I quickly thought: why is this being wasted? We then discovered a whole world we didn't even know existed.”
3. What can AI do for us in the short term?
“AI has the potential to offer significant benefits, but it will also have a major impact on certain industries. In the short term, we will become more productive and some jobs will disappear. AI is particularly well-suited to handling help desk and call center work: answering 300 identical questions for 8 hours a day is not a task you want the human brain to perform. Of course, this change will be met with resistance, as all change is. But in the end, we will be one step closer to a better quality of life for everyone.”
"I predict AI anxiety: not writing texts yourself because you think AI can do it better. The social impact will be greater than in any other field."
4. How do you envision the future?
“So far, AI has failed to mimic human quality, and there are still major flaws in the outcomes. However, when artificial general intelligence (AGI) is developed, it will operate like a human. That means it will be able to do something it has never done before without training or with limited instructions. There will come a time when computers understand how human brains work and can mimic them.
Can this be harmful? Absolutely. When I write a text, I already catch myself thinking: am I going to write this myself, or will I let AI do it? It's a kind of AI fear of failure, so to speak. That'll be tricky for teenagers: "I'll never write this essay as well as AI can, so I won't even try." The social impact will likely be greater than in any other field. But for now, we must remember that AI can only recreate existing ideas; it cannot produce new ones. Not yet, anyway.”