Beyond Limits CEO AJ Abdallat Sees AI as the Future of Energy
14 March 2019
Author: Jess Young
Originally published on The London Economic
Some see AI as a substitute for human achievement and some view it as a tool to help people produce their best work. Beyond Limits CEO, AJ Abdallat, holds the latter view.
“AI is a tool that no forward-thinking business can afford to ignore,” Abdallat stated. “In the future, humans will be working with AI to invent and improve products, processes and procedures.”
In 2017, a similar point of view prompted BP Ventures, the technology investment arm of British Petroleum, to invest $20 million in Beyond Limits to assist BP decision-makers. The investment facilitated autonomous pipeline inspection and helped BP monitor the health and maintenance of the company’s wells. Beyond Limits’ technology also enabled BP to share information that was previously limited to a few specialized individuals throughout its entire organization.
Beyond Limits’ technology has sprung from the NASA space program at Caltech’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which used symbolic AI to give the “Curiosity” space rover human-like reasoning for its 2012 mission to Mars. This enabled the rover to ingest, process and act on millions of manual pages that a human being couldn’t have hoped to memorize in the necessary timeframe. In 2014, Abdallat cofounded Beyond Limits with company CTO Mark James to take AI to the next level. The company’s breakthrough AI technology has made it the smart choice for subsurface oil and gas exploration and production, as well as the energy, fintech, healthcare and logistics industries. A 2018 winner of a Silver Stevie® Award and an AI Tech Trailblazers Award, Beyond Limits has been covered in Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur, ZDNet, the Financial Times, the International Business Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
Today, Beyond Limits, in partnership with BP, is intent on creating AI founded on physics. Rather than creating systems based on nonadaptive analytics and data that could change in real time, Beyond Limits’ engineers and scientists design systems that have the capacity to adapt to ever-changing, often harsh environments, such as space, the ocean, and the desert. This technology goes beyond AI to what Beyond Limits calls “cognitive intelligence,” the ability of a machine to not only explain what’s happening in real time but also how to deal with it. Instead of being a passive narrator, the technology becomes an active participant, predicting and suggesting future courses of action and even explaining how it reached its conclusion. According to Abdallat, cognitive intelligence is the tip of a pyramid built from the ground up on data analytics, data science, and deep learning.
As recently as November 2018, Beyond Limits was able to promote its vision for the future of energy at the Oil & Gas Council’s World Energy Capital Assembly (WECA) in London, where Abdallat gave a keynote address on digitalization. Entitled, “Is The Oil and Gas Sector Keeping Up?”, the speech explored the future of energy assisted by AI. Given that WECA’s purpose is to discuss the point at which finance and energy intersect, Beyond Limits welcomed the opportunity to share its expertise on how cognitive AI can assist both industries for the better.
Statista reveals that the largest final energy consumers to date are the industrial sectors of agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and mining. In 2017, the US used almost 27.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 913.3 million metric tons of oil, making it the world’s largest consumer of both commodities. Worldwide interest in renewable energy is also on the rise, with many forward-looking companies investing in long-term strategies to reduce carbon emissions.
Within the oil and gas industry, Beyond Limits is working with BP to improve the industry infrastructure with superior reservoir management technology that uses static and dynamic observations in a single integrated model. Other renovations include a deep-water reservoir drilling target selector and several advisors for refining, predicting pipeline corrosion, preventing sand production, and supporting accurately blended feedstock. Among other things, this will help reduce the risks associated with human bias and poor judgment.
“Fulfilling the promise and massive potential of artificial intelligence will require human-like reasoning, far beyond what most AI systems can currently provide,” concludes Abdallat. “Beyond Limits has taken the proven AI used in deep space, and commercialized it for use in solving our world’s most pressing problems.”