Dear ChatGpt, how much does it cost me?

• 9 May 2023 12:07

By Carlo Terzano

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OpenAI, acquired by Microsoft thanks to the success of artificial intelligence software on everyone’s lips, in 2022 recorded losses for 540 million dollars. The costs of ChatGpt are exorbitant: 700 thousand dollars a day

The results are surprising, no doubt. ChatGpt can easily write a newspaper article about the challenges that the Meloni government will face with the PNRR, a thesis on quantum physics or a fantasy novel that wants to try to overshadow The Lord of the Rings, But how much does it cost to maintain every day all that set of machines and servers that make up the immense brain? The answer may come as a surprise: $700,000 a day.


At least according to sources reported by The Information. Taking them for granted, the American company OpenAI, acquired by Microsoft thanks to the success of artificial intelligence software on everyone’s lips, in 2022 would have recorded losses of 540 million dollars, about double the previous year

Most of these resources have been dedicated to product development, which has dominated the global tech debate for months. ChatGPT has been made available worldwide for free since December 2022, and a few weeks after Day One, the industry press was already pointing out the huge losses the company was making to make the service available.



The company led by Sam Altman has in fact announced at close turn that he would launch a paid version. Meanwhile, Microsoft confirmed a new $10 billion investment plan on OpenAI: it had already financed between 2019 and 2021 with 1 billion dollars.


The money of the rest serves: a continuous flow directed to the maintenance of ChatGpt that would have daily costs pairs to 700 thousand dollars. It comes to the paradox that the AI must be fed continuously, or cannot learn, but feeding it obviously has a cost not secondary that at the moment, as is obvious that it is, is not covered by any income. And of course it cannot be covered by the subscription requested to individual users.

It is only a temporary phase, however similar to that experienced by every enterprise or startup in the initial phase. However, it should be noted that OpenAi is a very lucky startup: not only does it have a golden goose, but it also has a series of well-respected investors, starting with Microsoft, That certainly should not make her lack the liquidity she needs.

It is clear that in the future the company will not turn to individual users but will aim to enter into partnerships with companies that intend to exploit its algorithms, not unlike what Microsoft is doing by including them in its search engine Bing. The applications of ChatGpt, moreover, are endless and the same Sam Altman has announced that its reality could shrink up to 100 billion, given the growing interest in artificial intelligence.


Of course, if the numbers of The Information were true, an additional issue arises in addition to the economic costs of ChatGpt related to the environment. Because even the Internet, although few people notice, pollutes. According to a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA), data centers alone require 1% of global electricity demand.

This percentage will explode with the migration of all public and private databases to the cloud. According to a research funded by the Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology of the European Commission, already in 2018 data centers in EU countries counted for 2.7% of electricity consumption, with a forecast of substantial increase in subsequent years.

According to a study by the Royal Society in late 2020, in a year an average user who uses e-mail for work can get to emit 135 kilos of CO2. Sending an email can produce 4 to 50 grams of carbon dioxide if the attachments are large. For that study digital technologies contribute between 1.4% and 5.9% to global CO2 emissions.

And since every Internet search is responsible for putting 1.7/2 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere, and a single server can produce 1 to 5 tons of carbon dioxide in a year, you can imagine how much it risks polluting every AI query. The costs of ChatGpt & members, in short, could be even higher. Not to mention the social ones, since, as you know, a huge number of jobs could be scrapped.

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