GOOGLE’S PR PROBLEM
Google has been in the news quite a bit lately. They constantly receive backlash for working on controversial projects. This time a report from Greenpeace earlier this month has exposed Google as being among the top developers of AI for the fossil fuel industry. Furthermore Greenpeace found AI powered tools are capable of boosting fossil fuel production as much as five percent. This isn’t a good look for Google since in today’s day and age there is a push to move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable clean energy.
Googles’s profits from the oil and gas exceeded 65 million dollars over the course of 2019. However, with the public’s growing intolerance towards pollution they figured the damage to their reputation long term could outweigh the profits. So they severed their ties with the fossil fuel industry and has pledged to no longer build AI that assists in their production.
THE INDUSTRY’S PUSH TOWARDS AI
As more and more scientific evidence emerges regarding human caused climate change, it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the fact that we must make a push towards clean renewable energy. The oil age is ending and major oil companies such as Shell, BP, and Chevron and others are losing money and turning to AI to help combat the profit losses.
These companies have recruited tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon for the sole purpose of getting more oil and gas out of the ground at a higher rate. The idea is AI powered analytic tools would allow oil companies to find and extract oil more efficiently reducing overhead production costs.
The key takeaway from all this is that AI can generate as much as 425 billion dollars in value for the oil and gas sector by 2025. While Google has been forced by public backlash to withdraw from their partnership with the industry the Greenpeace report shows Amazon holds a very large market share in the fossil fuels industry and continues to provide major oil companies with its services. This is bad news for the environment going forward.
A video from a few months ago depicting the role Google and Amazon are playing in the fossil fuel industry.
This is not the first time Google has had to end a contract with a controversial client over backlash. Back in 2018 Google was forced to end a contract with the Pentagon called Project Maven which involved building AI technology for drones. These drones were to be autonomous and to be utilized for military purposes. Needless to say this did not sit well with the general public. Over 4,000 Google employees signed a petition demanding the project be stopped and the company never again engage in building AI designed for warfare.
Following that backlash, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a promise that the company would not develop weapons or technologies that cause harm, or anything in which can be used for surveillance violating “internationally accepted norms” or “widely accepted principles of international law and human rights”
Would everyone who believes this promise will never be broken please stand up.