Jan 25 2024
Data Center

AI Adoption Is Great … If Done Sustainably

Agencies should consider energy usage as they plan for the new technology.

The age of artificial intelligence has sparked growing excitement across society, with new tools such as ChatGPT promising a competitive edge. The recent release of the Biden administration’s much-anticipated AI executive order is guiding federal agencies to embrace the technology while still managing the risk.

The executive order is a step in the right direction to promote safe, secure and trustworthy AI — essential as agencies explore new technology. However, as government agencies feel the push to integrate AI into their operations, they have an opportunity to improve their infrastructures to support the new solutions.

Many agencies lack the infrastructure to handle the high-performance data demands and energy requirements needed to maximize the benefits of AI. In fact, legacy systems often cannot support the massive AI data pipelines required to get the most from machine learning models. And while AI brings immense promise, its impact on energy use can be surprising.

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According to new research, 89 percent of IT managers are concerned about AI’s need for increased computing power affecting their ability to meet their environmental, social and governance goals, and 88 percent agree that meeting ESG goals is impossible without properly preparing their IT infrastructure to support AI initiatives.

These hidden costs of AI pose a challenge to successfully implementing critical agency initiatives, including those aimed at achieving environmental goals. As AI adoption accelerates, federal IT leaders must develop and execute a meaningful data strategy to ensure they can efficiently and effectively operationalize AI through the proper infrastructure while managing the environmental impacts.

How to Couple AI with Environmental Goals

With AI being adopted rapidly, agencies must strike a balance between managing the massive energy requirements and still making progress on ESG goals. The challenge for IT leaders is not just about creating a durable AI architecture; it’s also about embracing AI in a way that aligns with their priority ESG objectives.

Sixty percent of IT buyers who have already adopted AI technologies (or plan to in the next 12 months) say they have invested or will invest in more energy-efficient hardware to meet their ESG goals. This focus on sustainability initiatives can set agencies up for success.

READ MORE: Modern data center solutions take sustainability into account.

Architectural efficiency lowers costs, allows agencies to meet their most demanding requirements and helps build sustainable data storage and management solutions. Alignment to green initiatives, including power, energy and other sustainability goals, enables IT to advocate for more sustainable platform choices.

Agencies can rethink their infrastructures to support AI initiatives while meeting their ESG goals. By investing in a flexible data storage foundation that grows as needs evolve, agencies can optimize efficiency and performance at every step of the AI process.

Embrace New Federal AI Standards

As AI becomes a more frequent adaptation for federal agencies, the Biden administration is ramping up focus on AI adoption and regulation. The recent executive order establishes new standards for AI in a number of categories, including safety and security, privacy, equity and civil rights, supporting consumers and workers, innovation and competition, American leadership, and government use of AI. These factors demonstrate the vision for integrating safe and secure solutions in all agencies.

The executive order also lays out robust frameworks for harnessing AI’s benefits and managing its risks. The sustainable scaling of AI solutions will become more prevalent in the coming months. By maintaining and investing in new, sustainable architectures, agencies can embrace AI to improve business continuity and recovery times in the event of a disaster; cut weeks off upgrade time to reduce storage rack space; and modernize and scale to eliminate storage complexity.

DISCOVER: New cooling technologies can help AI environments use less energy.

Implementing AI within an agency’s processes and operations can be highly effective in enabling agencies to achieve greater agility, increase citizen satisfaction, improve operational excellence and accelerate innovation.

However, as ESG adoption has become more critical to the federal government, agencies face the challenge of balancing environmental impact with business-driven objectives to harness the value of exponential data growth.

As agencies work toward meeting net-zero goals without compromising the pace of innovation, their IT leaders should increasingly look to embrace AI in ways that align with ESG objectives. Those who begin with a critical look at their infrastructure will end up saving costs, time and agency resources.

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