How AI is changing the game of marketing – and the hidden costs?


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the field of marketing, enabling unprecedented levels of personalization, prediction, and creativity. But behind the scenes, AI also consumes a huge amount of energy and water, raising environmental concerns. How can marketers harness the power of AI without compromising the planet?


AI: A double-edged sword for marketing

AI has become a key tool for marketers, who use it to analyze customer data, generate content, optimize campaigns, and enhance the customer experience. According to a report by the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, 64% of marketers say AI will be critically important to their marketing success over the next 12 months, and 98% of marketers say they are already personally using AI in some way.

AI can help marketers create more engaging and relevant stories for their audiences, using techniques such as natural language generation, computer vision, and generative AI. For example, Netflix uses sophisticated machine-learning algorithms to anticipate viewers’ preferences and tailor its original programming accordingly. OpenAI, a research organization, has developed advanced language models that can dynamically adapt content narratives to user input, detecting underlying user sentiments and responding accordingly.

AI can also help marketers deliver more precise and predictive advertising, using programmatic platforms that adjust ads to live situational contexts. For instance, Spotify uses AI to create personalized playlists and ads for its listeners based on their music tastes, moods, location, and time of day. Coca-Cola leverages AI to optimize its vending machines, using facial recognition, weather data, and inventory information to offer customized drinks and promotions.

AI: A hidden threat to the environment

However, AI also comes with a hefty environmental price tag. AI requires a massive amount of computing power, which in turn consumes a lot of electricity and water. Running AI models can generate significant carbon emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change. Moreover, AI can also deplete water resources, as water is used for electricity generation and cooling the servers.

A study by the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Texas, Arlington, estimates that the global AI demand may be accountable for 4.2 billion to 6.6 billion cubic meters of water withdrawal in 2027, more than the total annual water withdrawal of Denmark or half of the United Kingdom. Another study by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found that training a single AI model can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to nearly five times the lifetime emissions of the average American car.

These figures are alarming, especially as the use of AI is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. According to Nvidia, a leading AI company, 1.5 million AI server units will be shipped per year by 2027. This means that AI could become a major source of environmental pollution and resource depletion unless technological breakthroughs or policy interventions are made to reduce its impact.

AI: A balance between innovation and sustainability

The dilemma facing marketers is how to balance the benefits of AI with its costs. On one hand, AI offers a competitive edge and a way to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. On the other hand, AI poses a serious threat to the environment and society, which could damage the reputation and the values of the brands that use it.

One possible solution is to adopt a more responsible and ethical approach to AI, following the principles of green computing and social responsibility. This could include:

  • Choosing more energy-efficient and water-efficient hardware and software for AI applications
  • Reducing the frequency and complexity of AI model training and testing
  • Using renewable energy sources and carbon offsets to power AI operations
  • Monitoring and reporting the environmental impact of AI activities
  • Educating and engaging customers and stakeholders on the environmental issues related to AI
  • Supporting and collaborating with other organizations and initiatives that promote sustainable AI

By doing so, marketers can not only mitigate the negative effects of AI but also create a positive image and a competitive advantage for their brands. AI can be a powerful ally for marketing, but only if it is used wisely and responsibly.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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