The Gradient
The Gradient: Perspectives on AI
Sasha Luccioni: Connecting the Dots Between AI's Environmental and Social Impacts

Sasha Luccioni: Connecting the Dots Between AI's Environmental and Social Impacts

On the carbon costs of ML systems, societal representations in diffusion models, and a metaethical perspective on AI ethics.

In episode 120 of The Gradient Podcast, Daniel Bashir speaks to Sasha Luccioni.

Sasha is the AI and Climate Lead at HuggingFace, where she spearheads research, consulting, and capacity-building to elevate the sustainability of AI systems. A founding member of Climate Change AI (CCAI) and a board member of Women in Machine Learning (WiML), Sasha is passionate about catalyzing impactful change, organizing events and serving as a mentor to under-represented minorities within the AI community.

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  • (00:00) Intro

  • (00:43) Sasha’s background

  • (01:52) How Sasha became interested in sociotechnical work

  • (03:08) Larger models and theory of change for AI/climate work

  • (07:18) Quantifying emissions for ML systems

    • (09:40) Aggregate inference vs training costs

    • (10:22) Hardware and data center locations

    • (15:10) More efficient hardware vs. bigger models — Jevons paradox

    • (17:55) Uninformative experiments, takeaways for individual scientists, knowledge sharing, failure reports

  • (27:10) Power Hungry Processing: systematic comparisons of ongoing inference costs

    • (28:22) General vs. task-specific models

    • (31:20) Architectures and efficiency

    • (33:45) Sequence-to-sequence architectures vs. decoder-only

    • (36:35) Hardware efficiency/utilization

  • (37:52) Estimating the carbon footprint of Bloom and lifecycle assessment

  • (40:50) Stable Bias

    • (46:45) Understanding model biases and representations

    • (52:07) Future work

  • (53:45) Metaethical perspectives on benchmarking for AI ethics

    • (54:30) “Moral benchmarks”

    • (56:50) Reflecting on “ethicality” of systems

    • (59:00) Transparency and ethics

  • (1:00:05) Advice for picking research directions

  • (1:02:58) Outro


The Gradient
The Gradient: Perspectives on AI
Deeply researched, technical interviews with experts thinking about AI and technology. Hosted, recorded, researched, and produced by Daniel Bashir.