Googzilla, Man Up, Please

July 8, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I read a couple of “real” news stories about Google and its green earth / save the whales policies in the age of smart software. The first write   up is okay and not to exciting for a critical thinker wearing dinoskin. “The Morning After: Google’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Climbed Nearly 50 Percent in Five Years Due to AI” states what seems to be a PR-massaged write up. Consider this passage:

According to the report, Google said it expects its total greenhouse gas emissions to rise “before dropping toward our absolute emissions reduction target,” without explaining what would cause this drop.

Yep, no explanation. A PR win.

The BBC published “AI Drives 48% Increase in Google Emissions.” That write up states:

Google says about two thirds of its energy is derived from carbon-free sources.


Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough.

Neither these two articles nor the others I scanned focused on one key fact about Google’s saying green and driving snail darters to their fate. Google’s leadership team did not plan its energy strategy. In fact, my hunch is that no one paid any attention to how much energy Google’s AI activities were sucking down. Once the company shifted into Code Red or whatever consulting term craziness it used to label its frenetic response to the Microsoft OpenAI tie up, absolutely zero attention was directed toward the few big eyed tunas which might be taking their last dip.

Several observations:

  1. PR speak and green talk are like many assurances emitted by the Google. Talk is not action.
  2. The management processes at Google are disconnected from what happens when the wonky Code Red light flashes and the siren howls at midnight. Shouldn’t management be connected when the Tapanuli Orangutang could soon be facing the Big Ape in the sky?
  3. The AI energy consumption is not a result of AI. The energy consumption is a result of Googlers who do what’s necessary to respond to smart software. Step on the gas. Yeah, go fast. Endanger the Amur leopard.

Net net: Hey, Google, stand up and say, “My leadership team is responsible for the energy we consume.” Don’t blame your up-in-flames “green” initiative on software you invented. How about less PR and more focus on engineering more efficient data center and cloud operations? I know PR talk is easier, but buckle up, butter cup.

Stephen E Arnold, July 8, 2024


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