From Spam Emails to AI Development: The Carbon Footprint of Technology

Hey, did you know that every little thing counts when it comes to the impact of digitalisation on the environment? The metaverse age has arrived, and it’s going to magnify the effects even more.

For example, did you know that sending an email produces carbon emissions? According to Mike Berners-Lee, a carbon footprint research fellow at Lancaster University, a spam email produces 0.3g of CO2e, a regular email produces 4g CO2e, and an email with a photo produces 50g CO2e. That’s comparable to driving 200 miles in a family car if you’re a typical business user who sends a lot of emails. However, the metaverse can help us save a lot of travel and reduce carbon emissions.

Another cool thing about the metaverse is its realistic environment. It’s like a simulation that allows for immersive training and education. There’s a project in Hong Kong that uses 4D virtual reality to help stakeholders visualise the effectiveness of an innovative noise mitigation measure.

But there’s a downside too. The global metaverse movement is streaming greenhouse gases into our planet, and we can’t forget about the carbon emissions from the AI development life cycle. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that training several typical big AI models produces nearly 626,000 pounds of CO2 equivalent, which is over five times the amount of greenhouse gases a car emits during its lifetime. That’s why companies that use metaverse technology need to hold accountability for the environmental impact they’re causing.

We need to “look before we leap.” Greenwashing can harm your company’s reputation, and neglecting to disclose critical information can be just as damaging.

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