Send this article to a friend:


Elon Musk: AI will run out of electricity and transformers in 2025
Loz Blain

"I've never seen any technology advance faster than this." The chip shortage may be behind us, but AI and EVs are expanding at such a rapacious rate that the world will face supply crunches in electricity and transformers next year, says Elon Musk.

In a dial-in Q&A to close the Bosch Connected World conference, the recent Nobel Peace Prize nominee spoke about self-driving cars and humanoid robots, and hinted at what's coming next from Tesla in electric vehicles – but he clearly wanted to send the clearest possible signal to industry as well: Get going on clean energy generation, and make as many electrical transformers as you can.

We'll let Musk take it from here in his own words, lightly edited:

"The artificial intelligence compute coming online appears to be increasing by a factor of 10 every six months. Like, obviously that cannot continue at such a high rate forever, or it'll exceed the mass of the universe, but I've never seen anything like it. The chip rush is bigger than any gold rush that's ever existed.

I think we really are on the edge of probably the biggest technology revolution that has ever existed. -Elon Musk

"I think we really are on the edge of probably the biggest technology revolution that has ever existed. You know, there's supposedly a Chinese curse: 'May you live in interesting times.' Well, we live in the most interesting of times. For a while, it was making me a bit depressed, frankly. I was like, 'Well, will they take over? Will we be useless?' But the way I reconciled myself to this question was: Would I rather be alive to see the AI apocalypse or not? I'm like, I guess I'd like to see this. It's not gonna be boring.

"The constraints on AI compute are very predictable... A year ago, the shortage was chips; neural net chips. Then, it was very easy to predict that the next shortage will be voltage step-down transformers. You've got to feed the power to these things. If you've got 100-300 kilovolts coming out of a utility and it's got to step down all the way to six volts, that's a lot of stepping down. 

"My not-that-funny joke is that you need transformers to run transformers. You know, the AI is like... There's this thing called a transformer in AI... I don't know, it's a combination of sort of neural nets... Anyway, they're running out of transformers to run transformers. 

"Then, the next shortage will be electricity. They won't be able to find enough electricity to run all the chips. I think next year, you'll see they just can't find enough electricity to run all the chips.

"The simultaneous growth of electric cars and AI, both of which need electricity, both of which need voltage transformers – I think, is creating a tremendous demand for electrical equipment and for electrical power generation."

The idea that the developed world's lights will begin flickering in 2025 because there are so many AIs being trained is pretty remarkable, and if Musk is right, it greatly underscores the need for massive amounts of clean energy, from a variety of different sources, yesterday. 

Interesting times, indeed!

Source: Bosch Connected World conference




Loz has been one of our most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only New Atlas contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his acappella band Suade.

Send this article to a friend: