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Chart: The AI-mazing Patent Race

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Chart: The AI-mazing Patent Race

Chart: The AI-mazing Patent Race

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Artificial Intelligence is transforming the way we live, and the tech giants are racing to stay ahead of the curve.

AI-related funding totaled an estimated $15.2 billion in 2017, a 144% increase over the previous year. The U.S. tech industry leads with a 50% share of those investments, even with China swiftly closing the gap in terms of patents and AI research.

AI itself isn’t new, but boosted computing power, increased connectivity, and the sheer volume of data has paved the way for the fourth industrial revolution of AI.

“The coming era will be looked back upon as the ‘AI era,’ when AI became the defining competitive advantage for corporations, government agencies, and investment professionals,” predicts David Nadler, founder of Kensho Technologies.

The Potential of AI

Artificial Intelligence is less about sentience and more about accelerated learning.

AI technology looks for patterns, learns from experience, and predicts responses based on historical data. An AI-powered computer can’t produce a unique thought, but it can probably predict yours. The end result: AI is able to learn new things at such a speed that it can predict your behavior and preempt your requests.

From the advancements in natural language processing that make Siri and Alexa possible, to the machine learning advancements that give robo-advisors their trading chops, AI’s ability to simulate human thinking means it can also streamline our lives. It can preempt our needs and requests, making products and services more user friendly as machines learn our needs and figure out how to serve us better.

This makes AI a vital source of competitive advantage.

AI’s Competitive Advantage

In their quest to stay on top of the Silicon Valley food chain, familiar tech and retail giants are dipping their toes in AI to execute diverse strategies:

Amazon
Amazon leverages AI technology to analyze and predict your shopping patterns. Alexa is very Artificially Intelligent indeed, and the revolutionary Amazon Go model continues to push the boundaries of AI tech on the ground.

Google
Google uses machine learning and pattern recognition in its search and facial recognition services, as well as natural language processing for real-time language translation. The company has also released a series of smart home products, like the Nest thermostat. After acquiring more than 50 AI startups in 2015-16, this seems like only the beginning for Google’s AI upgrade.

Microsoft
Microsoft’s Cortana is powered by machine learning, allowing the virtual assistant to build insight and expertise over time. In 2016, the tech giant added Research and AI as their fourth silo alongside Office, Windows, and Cloud, with the stated goal of making broad-spectrum AI application more accessible and everyday machines more intelligent.

Apple
Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about their AI research, but it’s safe to say Siri is only the tip of the iceberg. The tech giant received a patent this year for augmented-reality glasses, slated for a release in 2020.

Facebook
Facebook uses artificial intelligence to suggest photo tags, populate your newsfeed, and detect bots and fake users. The social media giant has also come under fire for their widespread use of AI analytics to target users for marketing and messaging purposes.

These tech kings are driving the research that will increasingly intertwine our lives with artificial intelligence, and it’s that investment that just might secure their future.

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Can Data Centers Be Sources of Sustainable Heat?

Data centers produce a staggering amount of heat, but what if instead of treating it as waste, we could harness it instead?

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Diagram showing how waste heat from data centers could be recaptured and recycled to provide sustainable heat in residential and commercial settings.

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The following content is sponsored by HIVE Digital

Can Data Centers Be Sources of Sustainable Heat?

Data centers support the modern technologies on which we rely, but also generate incredible amounts of heat as waste. 

And since computers tend to be very sensitive to heat, operators go to great lengths (and expense) to get rid of it, even relocating to countries with lower year-round average temperatures. But what if instead of letting all that heat disappear into thin air, we could harness it instead?

In this visualization, we’ve teamed up with HIVE Digital to see how data centers are evolving to recapture and recycle that energy.

How Much Heat Does a Data Center Produce?

To get an idea how much heat we’re talking about, let’s imagine a mid-sized cryptocurrency operation with 1,000 of the most energy-efficient mining rigs on the market today, the Antminer S21 Hydro. One of these rigs needs 5,360 watts of power, which over a year adds up to 47 MWh.

Multiply that by 1,000 and you end up with over 160 billion BTU, which is enough energy to heat over 4,600 U.S. homes for a year, or if it happens to be Oscar season, enough heat to pop 463,803 metric tons of popcorn. Less if you want melted butter on it. 

How Waste Heat Recycling Works?

At a high level, waste heat is recaptured and transferred via heat exchangers to district heating networks, for example, where it can be used to provide sustainable heat. Cool air is then returned to the data center and the cycle begins again.

Liquid cooling is by far the most efficient means of recapturing and transporting heat, since water can hold roughly four times as much heat as air.

Data centers around the world are already recycling their waste heat to farm trout in Norway, heat research facilities in the U.S., and to heat swimming pools in France.

A Greener Future for Data Centers?

Waste heat recycling has so far been voluntary, led by operators looking to put their operations on a more sustainable footing, but new regulations could change that. 

Amsterdam and Haarlemmermeer in the Netherlands require all new data centers to explore recycling their waste heat. In Norway, they require it for all new data centers above 2 MW, while Denmark has taken a carrot approach, and developed tax cuts and financial incentives. And in late 2023, the EU Energy Efficiency Directive came into force, which will require data centers to recycle waste heat, or show that recovery is technically or economically infeasible. 

With Europe leading the way, could North America be very far behind?

HIVE Digital Provides Sustainable Heat

HIVE Digital is already recycling waste heat from its data center operations in Canada and Sweden. 

Their 30 MW data center in Lachute, Québec, is heating a 200,000 sq. ft. factory, while their 32 MW data center in Boden, Sweden, is heating a 90,000 sq. ft. greenhouse, helping to provide sustainably grown local produce, just one degree short of the Arctic Circle.

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Learn how HIVE Digital is helping to meet the demands of emerging technologies like AI, sustainably.

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