Big tech has entered the oil business. Well, not all of big tech, because we do have Tesla out there trying to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, however, are a bit different. They are talking the talk, but when it comes to the oil and gas industry, they are eager to work with companies to find easier ways to extract oil.
In a video posted by Vox and shared by Viv on Twitter, some alarming news has been discovered about Google and Amazon: They are in the oil business — something we already knew despite the fact that Google has a lot of sustainability ideas and blog posts about how it’s being more “clean” and “green.” This video reveals what both companies are actually using Artificial Intelligence to do in the energy sector.
Google has growing data centers that need more energy every year. In 2017, Google was using 100% renewable energy for its data centers. Google’s use of its Artificial Intelligence called Machine Learning has also helped it reduce its total energy use. These are actually good things, but here is what’s not good, and in my opinion, it negates all the good Google has done:
Google has found out that its Machine Learning tech can be used to automate other tasks such as fossil fuel discovery and extraction. Google is using AI to be more efficient and greener, but it’s also using the same AI to get as much oil and gas out of the ground as fast as possible. In 2018, Google hired BP’s Daryl Willis, who worked for BP for 25 years. BP is the same company that had the disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico just off the coast of Louisiana. This disaster was the largest marine oil spill in US history. 4 million barrels of oil were poured into the sea.
Google hired Willis to head up what the Wall St. Journal described as a part of a new group Google has created to “court the oil and gas industry.” Willis is the VP of Google Cloud Oil, Gas and Energy. Google wants to be the partner of choice for the energy industry. Total, one of the largest oil companies, has signed a deal with Google to develop AI that will help with oil and gas production.
Microsoft and Amazon have also teamed up with the fossil fuel industry. In an employee meeting at Microsoft, someone asked CEO Satya Nadella if it was ethical for Microsoft to be selling its cloud computing services to fossil fuel companies. Nadella defended Microsoft’s energy partners while highlighting that these companies invested in Microsoft. These investments are in researching and developing more sustainable energy production methods. According to the employees’ transcript, Nadella said, “There’s no fossil fuel CEO who sits there and says, ‘You know, I’m just gonna deny climate change.'” Jeff Bezos of Amazon believes we need to help the oil and gas industry instead of vilifying them. AP reports that Amazon works with BP and Shell and wants to work with more oil and gas companies to use offer tech to help find drillable oil faster.
Working with the oil industry to create alternatives to using fossil fuels sounds like a good thing, but if you look at it from the point of view of a business owner, it is actually suicide. Why would I, as a jewelry artisan, want to work with a company that eliminates the need for jewelry? Unless I have an actual vested financial interest in the actual elimination of wearing jewelry, I’m pretty much screwing myself.
If the oil and gas industries were to completely convert to sustainable energy, and invest those billions of dollars in profits toward green energy, then we wouldn’t have the need for finding new ways of extracting oil quicker. In my opinion, this mentality that “we are teaming up with the oil industry because they want to help us go green” is a lie that these companies are telling themselves so they don’t feel bad about doing business with companies that are destroying our planet.
Currently, the world relies on fossil fuels for 85% of its energy needs. This percentage isn’t being helped if companies are spending money on trying to make fossil fuel extraction quicker and easier. Money should be spent on creating alternative ways of creating energy. There is so much potential in wind energy, solar, and even electric batteries. We have companies like Tesla leading the development of some of these areas — if Tesla can do it, so can the others. Big tech, in my opinion, should find a better way to spend those funds. Hiring a VP who used to work at BP? Those funds could be invested into solar instead, for example.
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