Google and Amazon are now in the oil business
How new tech is boosting old energy.
By Adam Cole Jan 3, 2020, 8:30am EST
Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have been very vocal about their efforts to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. But as the Wall Street Journal and Gizmodo have reported, these same companies are currently teaming up with the fossil fuel industry to help them squeeze as much oil and gas out of the ground as possible.
Oil has always been hard to find and hard to extract, and so the industry has teetered precariously on the edge of profitability several times throughout its history. Over and over again, experts have predicted that we’ll soon run out of accessible, affordable oil — but so far, they’ve been wrong. Just when things look bleakest for black gold, new technology swoops in to keep the industry afloat.
In the early days, that technology came in the form of better drills and pumps. As we explain in the video above, today’s technological savior is artificial intelligence. Computer algorithms that perpetually improve themselves can automate the discovery of new reserves and streamline fossil fuel extraction — a big boost for companies that now have to compete with wind and solar.
In 2018, the oil and gas industries spent an estimated $1.75 billion on AI — a sum that is projected to balloon to $4 billion by 2025. To get their piece of that pie, big tech companies are developing AI for oil companies, even as they publicly celebrate their sustainable initiatives.
We reached out to Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Total for comment on this piece. None of them responded.
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