A Beautiful Convergence

… of Two Seemingly Separate Technologies

Jonathan Kolber

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There is lots of excitement these days about the emergence of incredibly powerful “chat” AIs, such as Claude.AI and, of course, ChatGPT4. Less attention is given to the prospect of a massive increase in data storage requirements, and of energy to power and cool all of that computing and storage.

Yet that prospect is giving some serious planners and policymakers headaches. Consider that:

… AI could account for as much as one-tenth of the world’s electricity use by 2025. (Source: MIT Technology Review)

… a single LLM interaction may consume as much power as leaving a low-brightness LED lightbulb on for one hour. (Source: IEEE Spectrum)

For decades, we’ve been hearing objections to the development of outer space along the lines of, “there’s nothing you can do in space that you can’t do well enough on Earth” and “why waste money on space when you can use it to solve problems here?”

Though each of these arguments has been persuasive to an extent, the first fails to consider the astounding megaprojects which reusable rockets and, soon, the space elevator will enable. It fails to consider the major ecological benefits of mining asteroids for every manner of raw material rather than doing so down here. It also fails to consider the search for life in our own neighborhood, including nearly a dozen planets and moons within our solar system.

The second argument misses the fact that money is not spent in space but on space. Nobody wants electronic bank entries, paper or coins in space — for any reason whatsoever! However, money spent on space is now one of the fastest-growing segments of the global economy, benefiting millions down here.

The European Space Agency and others have identified a perfect confluence of two booming areas of technology, which should greatly benefit both.

The ever-increasing cooling and electricity requirements for burgeoning AI use lead to an excellent “new use case” for orbital platform development. If data centers are built in orbit, possibly at stable Lagrange points, then cooling them is easily addressed, to the same extent as terrestrial data centers, and disposal of waste heat becomes trivial.

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Jonathan Kolber

I think about how to create societies of sustainable, technological abundance. My book, A Celebration Society, offers one solution. It has been well received.