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Google to stop developing AI for oil and gas extraction following damning Greenpeace report

Written by Wed 20 May 2020

The organisation criticised Microsoft, Google, and Amazon for helping “dirty” energy companies extract gas and oil

Google has pledged to stop developing AI tools that help the energy sector extract oil and gas.

The company made the announcement hours after Greenpeace released a report comdemning public cloud giants for providing technology to oil and gas companies that inflicts damage on the environment.

Microsoft and Amazon were also singled out in the ‘Oil in the Cloud‘ report for equipping the struggling sector with high-powered computing and cloud tools that reduce production costs.

While the tech giants offer an array of cloud-based services on their platforms, the report identified the companies’ AI tools as particularly instrumental in unlocking new oil and gas deposits around the world.

Greenpeace slammed the cloud companies for the “stark disconnect” between their public carbon-neutral pledges and the lucrative contracts signed with the likes of ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Schlumberger, Total and BP.

“Each of the three major cloud companies have cloud computing contracts with the oil and gas industry that specifically aid in the exploration or production of oil, and some are actively marketing their services in pursuit of more business,” reads the report.

“These contracts work directly against the commitments made by these companies to reduce carbon emissions,” it added.

On Google’s decision to halt developing AI tools for the oil and gas sector, Liz Jardim, Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner, noted that the company “still has legacy contacts with oil and gas firms”. Jardim did say Greenpeace welcomed Google’s move, however.

The spotlight is now on Microsoft and Amazon, who have both adopted rather more nuanced stances than Google.

Microsoft released a statement saying the fossil-renewable energy transition was a complex issue and underscored its commitment to carbon negavitity by 2030. The real question for Greenpeace is whether Microsoft’s contract with ExxonMobile is factored into that equation.

Meanwhile, Amazon directed media to a landing page where it says industries should have equal access to technologies and that it welcomes the transition to renewable energy.


Written by Wed 20 May 2020


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