Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence is taking a break from beating the world’s best Go players to help the search giant save on its energy bills.
Speaking to Bloomberg, DeepMind's Demis Hassabis said the system was being used to reduce power consumption in its data centers through the efficient manipulation of servers and environmental controls such as air temperature, pressure and humidity.
“It controls about 120 variables in the data centers. The fans and the cooling systems and so on, and windows and other things,” said the DeepMind Co-Founder.
Google wrote in a blog post that DeepMind was able to cut the amount of energy used for cooling by 40 percent, which equates to a 15 percent reduction in overall Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) - the ratio of the total building energy usage to the IT energy usage.
Google used 4,402,836 MWh of electricity in 2014 - the equivalent to the average yearly consumption of about 366,903 US family homes. The power reductions made by DeepMind could cut millions of dollars from the company's power bills and help make back some of the $600 million Google paid for the UK-based AI firm back in 2014.
Using less energy will also be good for the environment; servers are responsible for two percent of all greenhouse gasses, and Google is said to have one of the biggest fleets in the world, according to The Guardian.
Another one of DeepMind’s co-founders, Mustafa Suleyman, said the sheer complexity involved in managing data centers meant it was one job where a machine can outperform a human.
It’s one of those perfect examples of a setting where humans have a really good intuition they’ve developed over time but the machine-learning algorithm has so much more data that describes real-world conditions [five years in this case].
It’s much more than any human has ever been able to experience, and it’s able to learn from all sorts of niche little edge cases seen in the data that a human wouldn’t be able to identify. So it’s able to tune the settings much more subtly and much more accurately.
Making its data centers more efficient is only the start of Google’s plans for DeepMind - it intends to implement the AI across other areas of the company in the future.