AI Energy Consumption: Can Local Processing Offer a Greener Solution?
AI Technology

AI Energy Consumption: Can Local Processing Offer a Greener Solution?

Claudia Tomasi

The digital age is witnessing an unprecedented integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into our daily lives. From smart assistants to sophisticated facial recognition systems, AI technologies have become central to our digital experience. However, the burgeoning growth of AI brings with it significant environmental challenges, particularly concerning energy consumption. In this article, we delve into the energy demands of AI, its environmental impact, and explore how innovative solutions like local processing, exemplified by MorphCast’s browser-based face emotion recognition, can offer a more sustainable pathway for the future of technology.

The Energy Consumption of AI

AI systems, especially those based on machine learning and deep learning algorithms, require vast amounts of data to learn and improve. Processing this data consumes considerable energy, primarily because these operations often take place in data centers that require constant cooling and power to function efficiently. A study by the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2019 highlighted that training a single AI model could emit as much carbon dioxide as five cars over their lifetimes. This high energy consumption not only raises operational costs but also contributes significantly to the environmental footprint of AI technologies.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of AI’s energy consumption is multifaceted. It includes direct emissions from the fossil fuels burned to power data centers and indirect impacts such as water usage for cooling these facilities. Moreover, the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing the hardware that AI systems run on adds another layer of environmental concern. As the demand for more sophisticated AI grows, so does the strain on our planet’s resources, prompting a critical need for sustainable solutions.

Examples of High Energy Consumption

In examining the high energy consumption associated with artificial intelligence, three prominent examples stand out: training of large language models, neural networks for autonomous vehicles, and image recognition systems.

Large Language Models (LLMs): Models like OpenAI’s GPT series are notorious for their energy-intensive training processes. They require analyzing vast amounts of text data to understand and generate human-like text. The training of these models can consume as much electricity as a small town over several days. This is because they run on thousands of powerful processors simultaneously, generating a substantial carbon footprint due to the energy used in both computation and cooling.

Neural Networks for Autonomous Vehicles: The development of autonomous vehicles involves training neural networks to interpret sensory data and make decisions in real-time. This process requires processing vast datasets of road images, videos, and sensor readings to cover a wide range of driving conditions and scenarios. The computational effort to train, test, and refine these models is enormous, resulting in significant energy usage.

Image Recognition Systems: AI-powered image recognition is fundamental to various applications, from security surveillance to social media. Training these systems to accurately identify objects or faces involves analyzing millions of images, a task that demands extensive computational resources. The energy consumed in this process is indicative of the broader environmental impact of running and maintaining AI technologies at scale.

These examples underscore the substantial energy demands of AI technologies. The reliance on data centers and high-performance computing not only increases operational costs but also contributes to the environmental footprint of AI, making the exploration of sustainable alternatives like local processing an imperative for the future.

How Morphcast Achieves Sustainability

Addressing the pressing need for sustainable AI, MorphCast has pioneered an innovative approach to reducing energy consumption through local processing. Unlike traditional AI models that rely on centralized data centers, MorphCast’s browser-based facial recognition technology processes data locally on the user’s device. This method significantly reduces the energy required for data transmission and processing, offering a greener alternative to conventional practices.

Local processing minimizes the dependency on remote servers, thereby lowering the overall energy consumption associated with cloud-based AI services. By harnessing the processing power of the user’s device, MorphCast effectively distributes the computational load, reducing the need for energy-intensive data centers. Furthermore, this approach enhances privacy and security, as sensitive data does not need to be transmitted over the internet.


As the world grapples with the dual challenges of technological advancement and environmental sustainability, solutions like MorphCast’s local processing represent a beacon of hope. By prioritizing energy efficiency and minimizing environmental impact, technologies that adopt local processing can lead the way toward a greener, more sustainable future for AI. As we continue to explore the vast potential of AI, it is imperative that we also consider the environmental costs and work diligently to mitigate them. In doing so, we can ensure that the benefits of AI are enjoyed not just by the current generation but by many to come.

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the Author

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Claudia Tomasi

Since 2008 Claudia has been delivering digital marketing strategies and managing digital project delivery for leading clients. She holds the position of Marketing and Account Manager at MorphCast.