Google says it's pulling its AI tools fossil fuel extraction projects

Google says it will stop providing custom AI and machine learning tools to help fossil fuel companies operate their extraction operations

  • Goole will stop building custom AI tools to help fossil fuel companies 
  • The announcement came in response to a Greenpeace report that criticized the close relationship between cloud service providers and the gas and oil industry
  • Google will honor its current contracts but not start any new AI partnerships

Google has announced it will no longer build custom AI or machine learning tools for oil and gas companies.

The move comes in response to a report from Greenpeace called ‘Oil in the Cloud,’ which identified the tech giant as one of three main tech companies helping fossil fuel companies expand their extraction projects.

While Google still has a number of current contracts it says it will honor, a company spokesperson said that moving forward it will no longer build custom AI or machine learning algorithms ‘to facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry.’

Google will no longer develop custom AI or machine learning algorithms to help fossil fuel companies with their extraction operations, after being named in a Greenpeace report on the relationship between the tech industry and oil and gas companies

The spokesperson pointed out that the company receives just $65million in annual revenue through Google Cloud from oil and gas companies, less than one percent of the total revenue from cloud services.

Greenpeace was encouraged by Google’s response and called on other major tech companies to follow suit, saying it has already had ‘productive conversations’ with many.

‘We hope Microsoft and Amazon will quickly follow with commitments to end AI partnerships with oil and gas firms, as these contracts contradict their stated climate goals and accelerate the climate crisis,’ Greenpeace’s Elizabeth Jardim told OneZero.

In recent years, Google has initiated a number of new policies to try and make its businesses less environmentally impactful.

In 2018, the company announced it had reached an internal goal of matching 100 percent of its own annual energy usage with renewable energy purchases in the hopes of supporting the industry.

The Greenpeace report also singled out Microsoft and Amazon Web Services for their support of the fossil fuel industry. ‘For us, it’s pretty simple, accelerating oil extraction is not an application tech companies should be using AI for at all,’ Greenpeace’s Elizabeth Jardim said

Google says it will honor all of its existing contracts, but won’t sign any new partnerships to develop AI programs that contribute to oil or gas extraction

Google also emphasized its cloud computing contracts for renewable energy projects with companies like AES Corporation, a Virigina-based electricity firm, Veolia, a French utility company, and Simple Energy, a software company that gives customers breakdowns of their energy usage.

The Greenpeace report singled out Microsoft as the most heavily entangled with fossil fuel companies, specifically pointing to a recent contract with ExxonMobil to help expand its extraction activities in the Permian Basin, which stretches across New Mexico and west Texas.

‘For us, it’s pretty simple,’ Jardim said. ‘Accelerating oil extraction is not an application tech companies should be using AI for at all.’

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