The Code That Powers Our Lives Has A Hidden Environmental Toll

“Hey Siri, how do you say ‘I love you’ in German?”

That might seem like an innocuous question to ask your phone or smart speaker. But the algorithms that power the software that can answer a question like this have a dark secret: The process of teaching these models to understand human language has a startlingly large carbon footprint.

According to a new paper that will be presented at the annual Association for Computational Linguistics conference in Florence, Italy, later this summer, training one popular off-the-shelf machine translation algorithm has a similar carbon footprint to five vehicles’ entire lifetimes, including their fuel. READ MORE ON: FAST COMPANY

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