Tech Won’t Drill It

Tech Won't Drill It
Feb 10 · 6 min read

No to AI for Fossil Fuel Exploration and Development

The science is clear: in order to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C, the majority of existing coal, gas and oil reserves must be kept in the ground [1, 2, 3, 4]. Burning the entirety of these fossil fuel reserves would push the global temperature vastly beyond a catastrophic global temperature rise of 2°C [5]. Global fossil fuel production is already proceeding at an unsustainable rate; the research shows that “countries’ planned fossil fuel production by 2030 will lead to emissions … 53% more than would be consistent with a 2°C pathway, and 120% more than would be consistent with a 1.5°C pathway. This gap widens significantly by 2040” [6]. New fossil fuel exploration and development projects will further exacerbate this already dire situation. If we are to have any chance at limiting global temperatures to safe levels, we must cease new fossil fuel exploration and development projects, start working to reduce fossil fuel extraction from current reserves, and transition to clean energy sources.

As new applications of artificial intelligence (AI) to problems in the physical sciences emerge, many such innovations are being used to accelerate fossil fuel exploration and development projects. In fact, tech companies are already competing to offer their AI services to automate the exploration and production of fossil fuel, consequently leading to “automating the climate crisis” [7, 8], aiming to compete with renewable alternatives [9]. These strategic moves are especially controversial for the tech giants, some of which have recently been touting sustainable practices for their own operations of computing infrastructure [10].

These Big Oil & Tech alliances will further reduce the cost of fossil fuel, accelerate consumption, and make it even harder for clean energy projects to compete in the market. These outcomes are clearly inconsistent with the imperatives of the situation: we must aggressively transition to clean energy sources, accelerate clean energy development, prevent the burning of the majority of the fossil fuel reserves we already have, and cease any efforts to expand these reserves.

We, members of the AI and physical sciences communities, are distressed to find that the intellectual output of our research, which has been performed with the goal of benefiting humanity, will be applied to further deepen the climate crisis. These applications are not only misaligned with our values and moral responsibilities, but they are also in direct conflict with the existential interests of planetary life.

We strongly believe that AI should not be used to automate or otherwise exacerbate the climate crisis. To this end:

  1. we, as individuals and members of the AI community, pledge not to use, aid in the use, or facilitate the use of any variants of artificial intelligence technology to aid in fossil fuel exploration and development projects.
  2. we call upon all members of the AI community to participate in the systemic changes required to ensure the decrease in fossil fuel production and, together, we urge tech and oil companies to stop exploiting AI technologies to facilitate and accelerate fossil fuel exploration and extraction.
  3. we urge policy makers to accelerate interventions to limit and stop fossil fuel production and mandate full transparency about the ways in which AI and computing technologies are forming new threats for climate change [11].

Note: the signatories of this letter do not represent or speak for their institutions.

Please sign below to endorse this letter.

To date, this pledge has been signed by 106 AI researchers and 35 others, including 2 people who are currently working on AI for fossil fuel exploration at Tech companies. The list of signatories include:

Yoshua Bengio (Professor, Scientific director of Mila, University of Montreal)

Toby Walsh (Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence, UNSW Sydney)

Felix Creutzig (Professor, Technical University Berlin)

Mary-Anne Williams (Distinguished Professor, University of Technology Sydney)

Celeste Kidd (Professor, UC Berkeley)

Meredith Whittaker (Distinguished Research Scientist, Co-Founder & Co-Director, AI Now Institute, New York University)

Kate Crawford (Distinguished Research Professor, AI Now Institute, NYU)

Hector Levesque (Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto)

Sasha Luccioni (Director of Scientific Projects, AI for Humanity, Mila, University of Montreal)

Bhaskar Mitra (Principal Applied Scientist, Microsoft)

Timothy J. O’Donnell (Professor, McGill University, Mila)

Roel Dobbe (Postdoctoral Researcher, AI Now Institute)

Gabriella Kazai (Principal Applied Scientist, Microsoft)

Peaks Krafft (Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford)

Sorelle Friedler (Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Haverford College)

David Abbink (Professor, Delft University of Technology)

Frank van Harmelen (Professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Simon Lacoste-Julien (Professor, Mila, University of Montreal)

Emma Strubell (Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University)

Tom Minka (Senior Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research)

Stephanie Hyland (Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research)

Radha Chitta (Applied Research Scientist, Kira Systems)

Martin Arjovsky (Post-doctoral Researcher, École Normale Superieure / INRIA)

Kyri Baker (Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Boulder)

Seda Gürses (Associate Professor, TU Delft)

Joseph R Bennett (Assistant Professor of Biology, Carleton University)

Eirini Malliaraki (Applied Research Designer, Alan Turing Institute)

Aimee van Wynsberghe (Assistant Professor, TU Delft)

Leah Nicolich-Henkin (Machine Learning Scientist)

Mustafa Mustafa (Machine Learning Engineer, Berkeley Lab)

Alexandre Lacoste (Research Scientist)

Hiske Overweg (Researcher, Microsoft Research)

Priya Donti (PhD Student, Carnegie Mellon University)

Nicole Carey (Research Associate in Robotics and Emergence, Harvard Univ.)

David Dao (PhD Student, ETH Zurich)

Jerome Lauret (Senior Scientist)

Rami Al-Rfou (Research Scientist, Google Research)

Dalal Hanna (PhD Candidate, McGill University)

Xavier Giroux-Bougard (PhD Student, McGill University)

David Rolnick (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania)

Nikola Milojevic-Dupont (PhD Student, Technical University Berlin)

Khalid Kadir (Lecturer, UC Berkeley)

Erin Grant (PhD Student, UC Berkeley)

Rohitash Chandra (Senior Lecturer, UNSW Sydney)

Khaled SAYAD (Engineer)

Coste Darius-Petrișor (Politehnica Univerisity of Timișoara)

Seynabou Gueye Ndiaye (Full stack developer, Myelin, Ikigai Montreal, Global Shapers Montreal)

Anirudh Goyal (PhD Student, Mila, University of Montreal)

Victor Schmidt (PhD Candidate, Mila, University of Montreal)

Alok Singh (AI Researcher)

Iulian Vlad Serban (CEO, Korbit Technologies)

Lai Woen Yon (PhD Student)

Laurie Stephey (Data Analytics Engineer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Leon Overweel (Deep Learning Engineer)

Brandon Smith (Applied Scientist)

Tomislav Pejsa (Software Engineer, Magic Leap)

Yonadav Shavit (PhD Student, Harvard University)

Maggie Oates (PhD Student, Carnegie Mellon University)

Tegan Maharaj (PhD Student, Mila, University of Montreal)

Maha Ghazal (Ecologist and Student, Parks Canada and University of Manitoba)

Herng Yi Cheng (PhD Student, University of Toronto)

Tan Zhi-Xuan (PhD Student, MIT)

Emily Fa (Student, MIT)

Shiv Shah (Student)

Andrew Ross (PhD Candidate, Harvard University)

Max Langenkamp (Student, MIT)

Victor Kristof (PhD Student, EPFL)

Kris Sankaran (Postdoctoral Fellow, Mila, University of Montreal)

Ben Green (Student, Harvard University)

Varoon Mathur (Technology Fellow, AI Now Institute)

Sarah Myers West (Postdoctoral Fellow, AI Now Institute)

Abraham Hmiel (Data Scientist)

Theodora Dryer (AI Now Institute)

Irene Knapp (Software Engineer, Tech Inquiry)

Tabitha Yong (Designer, Google Research)

Reed Lockwood (Software Engineer)

Jack Poulson (Tech Inquiry)

Deborah Raji (Tech Fellow, AI Now Institute)

Dylan Baker (Software Engineer, Google)

Maria Axente (Responsible AI lead, PwC)

D. L. Yonge-Mallo (Engineer / Researcher)

Nathalie Fernandez (Research Assistant, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Meg Young (PhD Candidate, University of Washington)

Nicolas Rothbacher (Master’s Student, MIT)

Lillian Chin (PhD Student, MIT)

Yuxi Liu (Designer)

Wouter Menninga (Software Developer, Sustainable Buildings B.V.)

Felix Beer (Digitalisation & Sustainability Researcher)

SONALI PARBHOO (Postdoctoral Student, Harvard University)

Javier Zazo (Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University)

Melanie F. Pradier (Postdoctoral Researcher, Harvard University)

Joy Lisi Rankin (Research Scholar, AI Now Institute, New York University)

Luke Hewitt (PhD Candidate, MIT)

Roelof Pieters (AI Researcher & CTO, 20tree.ai & Sunshine Lab)

Sholei Croom (Lab Manager, MIT)

Stéphane Goetz (Software Architect)

Nir Elbaz (Engineer, EquityBee)

Lennart Wittstock

Eric Dand (Software Engineer, Google)

Lin Xiao Zheng (Student, McGill University)

Yoehan Oh (PhD Student, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

David Cairns (Senior Engineer)

Diner Ismail (Software Developer)

Brian Maddy (Software Developer)

Alexandra Davies (Account Director, Advertising)

Cedd burge (Software Quality Champion)

Yolinde Z Hodde (Support Engineer)

Anthony Kesich

Rohan Nuttall (Student, University of Alberta)

Joshua Allen Baugh (Janitor)

Joshua Pratt (Software Engineer, Google)

Victor Garcia (Data Scientist, kWh Analytics)

Kayla Bruce (Student)

John Sabin (Ph.D. Student, East Carolina University)

Nathan Swartz (Student)

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