Generating AI Images Uses as Much Energy as Charging Your Phone

Key Takeaways:

– A new study has found that creating images with generative AI models can use as much energy as charging a smartphone.
– Popular models like ChatGPT’s DALL-E and Midjourney may produce more carbon than driving 4 miles.
– Image generation, turning text into an image, requires substantially more energy than other tasks for generative AI models.
– Large, multipurpose models like ChatGPT are more energy-intensive than task-specific models.
– The study did not include OpenAI models due to data sharing issues, which is seen as a problem.
– Multipurpose generative AI models are more user-friendly but also more energy-intensive.
– AI image generation models vary in energy efficiency, with Stability.AI’s Stable Diffusion XL ranking poorly.
– The study suggests being conscious of the cost and benefits of using generative AI and considering smaller models for certain tasks with large energy requirements.

Gizmodo:

Creating images with generative AI could use as much energy as charging your smartphone according to a new study Friday that measures the environmental impact of generative AI models for the first time. Popular models like ChatGPT’s Dall-E and Midjourney may produce more carbon than driving 4 miles.

“People think that AI doesn’t have any environmental impacts, that it’s this abstract technological entity that lives on a ‘cloud’,” Dr. Sasha Luccioni, who led the study, told Gizmodo. “But every time we query an AI model, it comes with a cost to the planet, and it’s important to calculate that.”

The study from Hugging Face and Carnegie Mellon found that image generation, turning text into an image, took substantially more energy than any other task for generative AI models. Researchers tested 88 models on 30 data sets and found large, multipurpose models, like ChatGPT, are more energy-intensive than task-specific models. The study is the first of its kind to measure the carbon and energy impact of generative AI models. Dr. Luccioni said the study did not look at OpenAI because they don’t share data, and according to her, that’s a big problem.

Image: Hugging Face/Carnegie Mellon

Dr. Luccioni, who is Climate Lead at Hugging Face, says multipurpose generative AI models, like ChatGPT, are more user-friendly, but more energy-intensive. Luccioni cites a paradigm shift towards these models because they’re easier for consumers to work with. You can just go to your chatbot and ask it to do anything for you, as opposed to having to find the right model.

OpenAI and Midjourney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I think that for generative AI overall, we should be conscious of where and how we use it, comparing its cost and its benefits,” said Luccioni.

Image for article titled Generating AI Images Uses as Much Energy as Charging Your Phone, Study Finds

Graphic: Hugging Face/Carnegie Mellon

The study tested several AI image generation models including Stability.AI’s Stable Diffusion XL which ranked as one of the worst for energy efficiency. Researchers also tested PromptHero’s OpenJourney, a free alternative to Midjourney. The study did not include ChatGPT’s DALL-E or Midjourney, which are the most popular models on the market, but these models are larger and more widely used than those mentioned in the study.

ChatGPT-4 has 1.76 trillion parameters, and that’s a lot of computation every time someone makes a ChatGPT inquiry. Dr. Luccioni sees the benefit of deploying multipurpose generative models in certain areas, but does “not see convincing evidence for the necessity of their deployment in contexts where tasks are well-defined.” Luccioni points out web search and navigation as areas that could use smaller models than ChatGPT, given their large energy requirements.

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AI Eclipse TLDR:

A new study conducted by Hugging Face and Carnegie Mellon has found that generating images using generative AI models can consume as much energy as charging a smartphone. This study, which measures the environmental impact of generative AI models for the first time, discovered that popular models like ChatGPT’s Dall-E and Midjourney may produce more carbon emissions than driving four miles. The research tested 88 models on 30 data sets and revealed that image generation, specifically turning text into an image, requires significantly more energy than other tasks in generative AI models. The study also highlighted that large, multipurpose models like ChatGPT are more energy-intensive compared to task-specific models. Dr. Sasha Luccioni, who led the study, emphasized the importance of calculating the environmental cost of using AI models, as people often perceive AI as an abstract technology with no environmental impact. Dr. Luccioni noted that OpenAI was not included in the study due to their lack of data sharing, which she considers a significant issue. She suggested that multipurpose generative models like ChatGPT are more user-friendly but also more energy-intensive. While Dr. Luccioni sees benefits in using these models in certain areas, she believes there is no convincing evidence for their necessity in contexts where tasks are well-defined. The study also tested several AI image generation models, such as Stability.AI’s Stable Diffusion XL, which ranked poorly in terms of energy efficiency. PromptHero’s OpenJourney, a free alternative to Midjourney, was also evaluated. However, the study did not include ChatGPT’s Dall-E or Midjourney, which are widely used and larger models in the market. Dr. Luccioni suggested that areas like web search and navigation could use smaller models due to their high energy requirements.