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Google uses artificial intelligence to cut the energy bill

In January 2014, Google acquired DeepMind, a company specializing in artificial intelligence, in particular in special algorithms used in video games, e-commerce and simulations.

One of the purposes for which the British company was acquired in any way surprising: to save on data center energy bills.

In recent months, Bloomberg writes, the Alphabet unit has used DeepMind's algorithms to partially control the way electricity is delivered to the data center, managing to reduce energy consumption related to cooling by 40% and by 15% the overall consumption of the computer centers (the servers that allow the search engine to work but also services such as YouTube and Gmail).

Artificial intelligence techniques normally used in video games apparently can also be applied to energy management, with huge savings on utility bills and in terms of environmental impact.

In 2014, Google used 4,402,836 MWh of electricity, equivalent to the average consumption of 366,903 U.S. households. Reducing even small percentages of consumption means saving huge amounts of money for a giant like Google.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in savings

Reducing consumption by 10% means saving hundreds of millions of dollars. Deep Mind's neural networks are able to determine when it is possible to switch off some systems or when necessary to activate them using a pattern-based recognition mechanism capable of determining consumption over the hours and consequently adjusting the switching on and off of various equipment. The variables kept under control are around 120, including the activation of cooling systems.

A Google spokesman explained that this is "a phenomenal step forward", which will allow "to greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions".

"With technologies like DeepMind, we can use machine learning to consume less energy and help meet one of the biggest global challenges: climate change."

Google Energy BillThe water used in Google's data center cooling systems passes through colored pipes. In the blue ones the cold water passes, in the red ones the water to be cooled.