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Google Pledges to Cut Off Artificial Intelligence Services for Fossil Extraction

Tech giant Google has announced it will no longer use its formidable artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help fossils do a better job of extracting oil and gas, after a Greenpeace USA report documented how Google, Microsoft, and Amazon were using AI and cloud computing to make it easier to find and develop deposits.

Google says it will honour its existing contracts with fossils, but won’t enter any new ones.

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Greenpeace “says Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have been undermining their own climate change pledges by partnering with major oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Chevron Corporation, and ExxonMobil Corporation that have looked for new technology to get more oil and gas out of the ground,” The Associated Press reports. “But the group applauded Google on Tuesday for taking a step away from those deals.”

“While Google still has a few legacy contracts with oil and gas firms, we welcome this indication from Google that it will no longer build custom solutions for upstream oil and gas extraction,” said Senior Corporate Campaigner Elizabeth Jardim.

AP says the Greenpeace report identifies Microsoft as the lead tech supplier to fossil companies, “offering AI capabilities in all phases of oil production.” Amazon’s work has been “more focused on pipelines, shipping, and fuel storage, according to the report. Their tools have been deployed to speed up shale extraction, especially from the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico.”

The news agency says Amazon and Microsoft declined comment on the Greenpeace report. Amazon pointed to the contention on its website that “the energy industry should have access to the same technologies as other industries,” while Microsoft “published a blog statement Tuesday that didn’t address Greenpeace’s claims but emphasized the company’s commitment to remove from the air all the carbon it has ever emitted by 2050.”