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“AI will explode the use of devices once again”

Craig Brundsen, CEO of Axiz Group of Companies

As the IT Summit 2024 commenced, Craig Brundsen, CEO of Axiz Group of Companies, delivered a thought-provoking opening address. His speech highlighted the inherent contradictions and challenges faced by the digital technology industry in striving for sustainability amidst rapid advancements in AI and cloud computing.


The concept of digital sustainability is in itself a contradiction in my opinion,” Craig Brundsen began, immediately setting the tone. “Sheila (Sheila Ujoodha, CEO of MIoD) mentioned in her opening remarks about AI having not just knocked on our doors, but having barged into our living room, so to speak, and I completely agree with that. For me, this is an extremely concerning time in our industry’s future.”


Craig Brundsen acknowledged the dual nature of the digital technology industry. “The digital technology industry right now has the amazing ability and responsibility to make meaningful advances and solve some very complicated problems that the world is currently grappling with. However, it wasn’t really that long ago that we were still grappling, as an industry, with how to deal with the topic of sustainability.”

The IT industry is currently one of the highest contributors to carbon emissions in the world


He candidly addressed the environmental impact of the IT industry. “The IT industry is currently one of the highest polluters or contributors to carbon emissions in the world. Few people know about that, and even fewer of us in the industry are comfortable admitting it. We currently contribute the same carbon emissions as the airline industry, and we have been grappling, in recent years, with the impact of cloud computing.”


Drawing parallels between AI and previous technological disruptions, Craig Brundsen remarked, “Ten years ago, cloud computing was what we are saying about AI today. AI, like cloud, has the ability to distract us, to lure us into the excitement of the sales race. Many of us, including Axiz, are in the business of selling more of this technology to sectors like business, education, and healthcare.”


He, however, raised concerns about the broader implications of AI and cloud computing. “We talk a lot about solutions and how to solve complex problems, but it’s worth pausing to consider the impact of these solutions on employment and education development. The IT industry has yet to solve the e-waste problem and the irresponsible amounts of packaging and transportation involved in our supply chains.”


Craig Brundsen emphasized the urgency of addressing these environmental issues. “AI will explode the use of devices once again. The smartphone has quickly become the primary access device for many people, and this explosion, driven by AI, will lead to increased public cloud consumption, expected to rise by over 40% in the next two years alone. This increase will have a monumental impact on carbon emissions.”


He provided a stark forecast for the future. “Currently, the IT industry contributes 3% to global emissions. Forecasts predict this could rise to as high as 9% by 2030, making the IT industry a bigger polluter than the shipping and airline industries combined. This should be a serious point of reflection on how we can be a responsible and sustainable digital industry,” he explained.


We must ensure we are using technology to solve complex environmental and social challenges.


Craig Brundsen therefore called on industry leaders to prioritize sustainability. “We have a moral and ethical duty as we deploy AI and encourage more cloud computing. We must ensure we are using technology to solve complex environmental and social challenges. My ask to the audience is to think about these risks and whether they are compensated by the returns.”


He concluded with a call to action for responsible partnerships and ethical considerations. “We want to encourage our partners and the ecosystem we represent to be part of a sustainable future. As we rush into AI and cloud sales pitches, we need to think about our responsibility to the planet and our social communities. Let’s strive to make the world a better place than we found it.”


Craig Brundsen’s address at the IT Summit 2024 served as a powerful reminder of the contradictions and challenges the digital technology industry faces in balancing innovation with sustainability. His call for responsible action resonated with the audience, emphasizing the need for a collective effort to ensure technology benefits both the planet and society.

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