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Google used DeepMind AI to cut its power bill

The DeepMind acqusition might have paid for itself through more efficient data centers.

Reuters/Peter Power

Google's grand experiment in using artificial intelligence to save power is paying off. The search firm's Demis Hassabis tells Bloomberg that the DeepMind AI has cut electricity use at Google data centers by "several percentage points" thanks to its extra-efficient use of equipment, such as cooling systems and windows. It's not certain just how much energy the smart code is saving, but Google used slightly over 4.4 gigawatt-hours in 2014 alone -- even a small dent in that consumption could easily save hundreds of millions of dollars. That pricey DeepMind acquisition is likely paying for itself.

The company sees more savings ahead, too. The AI now knows where there are gaps in its coverage, and it may tell Google to install more sensors to improve its effectiveness. Software can only do so much to lower the tech giant's power consumption. However, it's a relatively small investment that can pay big dividends, and not just for Google's bottom line -- combined with investments in renewable energy, it could do a lot to help the environment.

The results also underscore the sheer flexibility of DeepMind. On top of detecting eye disease and playing games (including against Go experts), it's now handling behind-the-scenes duties that might not be as glamorous, but could make a tremendous difference in day-to-day life. You may soon see Google and its partners using AI for loads of routine tasks where humans are frequently wasteful.