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The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Energy

BP Technology Outlook 2018

“Intelligence is the most powerful and precious resource in existence, but there are countless untapped opportunities for intelligence to make the world a better place. The key is actionable intelligence – which could be harnessed by our digital world where everything can potentially be connected to generate data.”

Intelligence. In its varied forms, from the mysterious brain of the octopus and the swarm intelligence of ants to Go-playing deep learning machines and driverless vehicles, intelligence is the most powerful and precious resource in existence. Beyond recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that enable it to win games and drive cars, there are countless opportunities for intelligence to help make the world a better place. One such area is energy, including the modernization of the oil and gas industry. This is a global landscape rich in opportunities for protection of the environment, more efficient discovery of energy sources, workplace safety, plus diagnostics for more informed decision-making.

We live in a digital world where everything can potentially be connected. The key is actionable intelligence – data that’s been analyzed to aid human decision-making. One important strategy is embedding intelligence so, decisions can be made at the sensor rather than “phoning home” to headquarters. Imagine an intelligence sensor on a drill bit that can manage its residual lifespan, avoiding the costly practice of pulling it up for inspection just because its Mean Time Between Failure rating (MTBF) says so.

Downstream, cognitive AI is now being applied to track tankers to determine when they leave port, where they’re going, and how much petroleum or LNG they are transporting. Predicting what is being shipped, plus refinery destination and arrival times, will help traders make smarter decisions.

Removing friction from port scheduling operations requires a rare form of machine intelligence called cognitive intelligence (or human-like reasoning). This involved the fusion of the key cognitive capabilities of multi-agent scheduling with reactive recovery, asset management, rule compliance, diagnostics, and prognostics to ensure seamless autonomous operation.

My final prediction is about a development which I feel will become of increasing importance: embedding intelligence in silicon. While the world may think of AI running on mammoth computers, as in sci-fi movies, that approach is becoming a thing of the past. In the near future you will see the emergence of true intelligence being deployed in tiny blocks of silicon – even more disruptive than the transition from tubes to microelectronics.

Our wider vision of AI for the future of energy includes cognitive systems that intelligently and fluently interact with human experts and provide articulate explanations and answers. Across the board, you will see, and work with, systems endowed with rare and valuable intelligence.

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