What is Big Tech doing in the Oil Industry?
Every few years we read studies that proclaim the world shall soon run out of oil and petroleum supplies, and permanently change our lives. Despite that, we are witnessing that the availability is continuously stable and alongside also catering to the needs of the growing global population. The mega-change in energy requirements was first spotted back in 1859, resulting in predictions of a shortage by 1909, as reported by digital-news media Vox. Interesting how even after almost 110 years and a big population leap the world is still going afloat with the same. How has the production and extraction been so stable over the years? The first word is technology, of course. It is well-inferred what impact it has already made, better techniques, resources, and experiments. Now though, it seems it is the Technology Giants that have collected the baton to move forward with the "so-called legacy."
Energy requirements may continue to grow, or at least stay intact, so it becomes important how efficient the extraction process is, and that is why these technology companies entered the game to use Artificial Intelligence or AI as their premier tool, to make the process efficient and enhance profits of there "joint-venturers." Google's collaboration with Oil fame-company Total is an example. What's wrong with this though, and why should we question? Public representatives of these companies have for long projected how they are advancing talks, facilitating carbon-neutral activities, and battling climate change and in Inspite of that are joining hands with petroleum companies and extracting fossil fuels, only to emit- carbon dioxide permanently in the air.
Expelling practices of using natural resources and fossil fuels in our lifestyle is a huge ask immediately, and cannot be expected, despite that it is not justified to neglect the aim of achieving it only to reverse gears. Oil spills in Russia the year before, where 21,000 tons of oil poured down in a nearby lake in what turns to be possibly the biggest such disaster in the world also made things worse, largely occurring due to continual rise in temperatures. Methane burning and fuming are also realities of fossil fuel extraction and a recent study indicated these occurrences are now also visible from space.
Technology's integration with oil can be put in simple terms, say it helps to locate the exact coordinates where extractions can be done, helps in predicting geological shifts, and robotics for instance makes the process of drilling simpler and prevents risking of human lives, but at a huge environmental cost. Post the release of the Greenpeace report on climate change, which stated how much tech companies are involving themselves in the oil industry and its capability to push temperature rise over a whopping 2 percent, Google announced it shall not make AI Algorithms for these companies anymore, how it involves then is a thing to see for the future. COP-26 meeting that just took place a few days back in Glasgow made bold commitments to eliminate methane emissions, achieve a net-zero by 2050 and Google Cloud was quick to update itself and establish its keenness in investing in the prevention of the worst effects of climate change and building a sustainable future.
Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence are incredible technologies that are possibly going to change lives in the upcoming years with the best minds working and honestly, that's quite fascinating. But, powerful tools are only powerful, how they are used is totally up to the world. Take the mighty TESLA for example.
The message of the vulnerability of fuel extraction is already there through climate change campaigns, but it might be time, we deliver a new one, and that is Tech Companies cannot dominate the world, and their autonomy cannot be something the world should be adjusted to. Even though this is a separate kind of debate, it shall be significant in upscaling the public attitude. These companies should not ideally be solely to blame for environmental concerns or become any sort of a target as a matter of "conspiracy" against them. In what we call it, data is the new oil, these data-analyzing houses shall and must not become the new oil companies.