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The big AI revolution

Started by monsta666, Feb 20, 2024, 01:50 PM

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and large language models are all the rage these days and their impact is often touted as changing the world of work in a truly revolutionary way aka lots of job losses are likely to result from this technology.

These chat-based programs gain their knowledge by absorbing huge amounts of data and use that data to generate information that is often but not always correct. The results are quite interesting and if you have not already done so I would encourage you to start a conversation with one of these bots. The technology goes beyond texting however and can extend to generating pictures and even videos from simple prompts. In the next few years expect to see more and more AI generate pictures and even videos. You can possibly see which jobs are at risk just based on my descriptions and what nefarious uses this technology can be used for.

Anyhow, this thread will be dedicated to issues such as ChatGPT or other such programs and their potential issues they pose in the immediate future.

In the article I got linked up it goes on about the vast amount of energy required to power the various AI farms that have sprung to power these latest AI technologies. It sounds extreme, but due to sheer amount of electrical energy required there is a suggestion of powering future AI farms with nuclear energy.

Future data centres may have built-in nuclear reactors (BBC)

By Michael Dempsey
Technology reporter

A man with a shiny metal Concorde model on his desk, and old circuit boards on a shelf, is clearly in love with technology.

Chris Sharp is the chief technology officer at Digital Realty, a US business at the intersection of construction and high-tech. It builds data centres, the anonymous warehouses full of computers that keep the online world spinning.

And the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), which requires far more processing power than standard computing, has put rocket boosters under the data centre world.

His company has just built a huge new data centre in Portland, Oregon dedicated to AI. Just how different is this from an ordinary data centre?

"A normal data centre needs 32 megawatts of power flowing into the building. For an AI data centre it's 80 megawatts," says Mr Sharp.

AI systems are using all this extra electricity simply because they are doing so much more processing than standard computing. They are chewing through far more data.

Mr Sharp also points out that the entire web of technical support demanded by AI is greater. "You have five times more cabling, for instance."
A technician at a data centre in ChinaImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Data centres already used huge amounts of electricity, but AI is significantly increasing their power consumption

All of this points to a problem. How can AI grow when it requires so much more power to function?

Demanding ever more juice from the existing grid means competing with homes and other industries, and is not going to win the data centre sector any friends if blackouts result.

"Our industry has to find another source of power," Mr Sharp declares. He reckons that is nuclear.

More pressingly, he predicts that data centres in the not too distant future will come with their own dedicated, built-in nuclear reactors.

The technology in question is the much-touted Small Modular Reactor (SMR). These are designs for advanced reactors with about a third of the power generation of a traditional, large nuclear plant.

While there are currently no SMRs in commercial operation around the world, China is building the world's first, and similar technology is already used by nuclear-powered submarines.

Meanwhile, universities, such as the UK's Imperial College London, have for years operated small nuclear reactors for teaching and training purposes. Imperial's own reactor, located just outside London, was operational from 1965 to 2010.
The core module of China's forthcoming commercial SMR being transported last summerImage source, Getty

Today most companies developing SMRs for commercial use are focusing on helping towns and cities to keep their lights on. However, a clutch of specialist firms have decided that data centres are the best candidates for their SMR designs.

Dr Michael Bluck runs the Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College London. "Data centres are power hungry things, but with AI we're moving into a new level of power requirements," he says.

"There are about 50 SMR designs out there. The challenge is to build them in repeatable units, factory style, standardising production lines.

"There's no reason why a small fast reactor can't power a data centre, except that you have to get it past the regulator."

In the US, one SMR design from a company called NuScale has already been given the go-ahead by the Office of Nuclear Energy. Meanwhile, in the UK the Office for Nuclear Regulation is continuing to study SMR designs from Rolls-Royce and US tech firm Holtec International.

And US energy firm Westinghouse wants to build four SMRs in north east England, in Tees Valley, close to the existing Hartlepool nuclear power station.
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Dr Bluck thinks nuclear submarines offer a compelling safety case for SMR technology. "We build a reactor and put it in a submarine, and people sleep within two yards of it."

And he forecasts the tech sector's involvement in SMR development will prove decisive. "These guys have got oodles of cash!"

By contrast, Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, says that the high cost of SMRs will prove to be too great a barrier.

Unrealistic hype lies behind the cost estimates for SMRs," he says. "This hype will fall away as delays and difficulties emerge."

Dr Parr argues that data centre operators will get cold feet when revised costings emerge to render SMRs uncompetitive compared with renewable energy sources.

Greenpeace is also opposed to nuclear power on safety grounds, pointing out the risk of accidents, and the need to deal with the radioactive waste.

Spencer Lamb, chief commercial officer at British data centre developer Kao Data, doesn't view nuclear-powered facilities in the UK as being something imminent. "I've heard about SMRs, but it will take a long time to deploy a nuclear-configured data centre in the UK, and AI is happening now," he says.

Back in California, a company called Oklo says it has an SMR design that is almost ready to roll.

"AI is the catalyst, the main driver," says Brian Gitt, who is in charge of business development at the company.

Oklo plans to manufacture SMRs that it says can built both quickly and safely.

"People question the viability of nuclear power due to the waste product and risk of an accident," says Mr Gitt. "We recycle the fuel through our reactor multiple times, dealing with the waste, and the new reactors cannot melt-down, they are self-cooling and self-regulating."
An artist's impression of the exterior of an Oklo SMR and data centreImage source, Oklo
Image caption,
Oklo's designs for its planned SMRs appear to be going for more whimsy charm than your typical power station

Mr Gitt declines to reveal if any data centre firms have already signed contracts, but he says that "all the major operators are interested". He adds: "Power is their biggest problem, and they want to deploy this technology within four years, by 2028."

Mr Gitt says that his 25 years working in the energy business has convinced him that nuclear power is the only answer to the pressures the new AI data centre world faces.

"[Without us] they just don't have the power to turn on all the machines they need to have. We are signing letters of intent on specific data centre locations for the 2028 timeframe."

So what will a data centre's very own nuclear plant look like? Oklo envisages a large stainless steel tank that contains the SMR dropped into a 50ft (15m) deep hole in the ground. The data centre would then constructed on and around it.

Perhaps the ultimate tie up between SMRs, AI and data centres is evident on Oklo's board.

Sam Altman, the high profile leader of leading AI firm OpenAI has been its chairman since 2015. As Mr Gitt says of Mr Altman, "he identified this issue 10 years ago."

Thoughts anyone?


Your article turned into an article about nuclear power.  But it started off on topic.

The is a group of doomers I would love to introduce the Diner to.  I published this in another thread today.

I like the way they split the screen and the grid layout for the participants.  The right side of the layout was used to show info from chatGPT about the discussion as it progressed.  This must be chatGPT 4.0.  I use the free version 3.0.  Which is wrong as often as it is right.

I shudder to think of the power I have used with certain questions I have asked.

Will it put people out of jobs?

No, but capitalism will.


Sadly, even the Black Widow probably can't stop AI from consuming still more Terawatts of power and infiltrating our existence, but she may at least slow it down a little.

Sam Altman's Scarlett Johansson Blunder Just Made AI a Harder Sell in DC



They don't have enough Juice to keep the lights on reliably in Kenya, but the Big Gorilla will build a Geothermal plant just to power his Supercomputer AI farm there.

On the plus side, Come the Revolution, they could Nationalize the power plant, unplug the supercomputers and turn the lights back on.

Microsoft to build $1 bn geothermal data centre in Kenya following Nigeria facility closure