Gas consumption has
seen a major increase in its use for the production of electricity
in both Europe and the US as it is a less polluting fuel than coal
while having a higher efficiency. The International Energy Agency
forecasts an annual increase in demand of 1.5% in the next ten to
This increased use
may, however, well put consuming countries, and the European Union
in particular, into a higher dependency ratio - of up to 80% - with
regards to its suppliers, since gas extraction is geographically
concentrated in a limited number of countries some of which have
dwindling resources or require considerable investments to maintain
their present production levels, or both. Russia's estimate is that
investments of the order of 300 billion dollars will be required
over the next 20 years to meet demand. In the case of Russia, large
investments to maintain an archaic pipeline system are also required.
Should these large
investments not be made, supplies will be reduced and Russia would
most likely increase prices to maintain its revenue flow.
Europe's natural gas
suppliers are Norway, Russia, Central Asia and North Africa. Supplies
from Iran are out of the question for the moment. Europe's dependency
might induce its suppliers to select its clients on the basis of
a political agenda.
The world's leading
gas producers are Russia, the United States, Canada, Iran and Norway.
Several European countries are now proceeding with exploratory drillings
but results are so far unavailable.
concerns will no doubt lead to a reduced demand, of up to one-third
by 2030 according to some forecasts, while the opposite will be
true for Asia. Competition between the two continents for adequate
supply will increasingly weigh on suppliers' decisions with regard
to the building of transport routes from Russia, Central Asia or
the Gulf. These routes are significantly longer and therefore more
expensive to reach the Asian markets than Europe. However, China's
massive foreign exchange reserves enable it to finance the building
of gas pipelines over large distances and difficult terrain but
the availability of Australian gas may not require them to make
China has also struck
deals with foreign companies that will be drilling in China for
shale gas. The government has set a target of producing 50% of its
Another issue that
is a cause of worry is the possibility of the creation of a gas
producer's cartel but that is unlikely as long as the market is
dominated by long-term contracts and that producers and consumers
have little flexibility in view of their link through the fixed
structure that is a pipeline. Further, the interests of the gas
producers are far from being homogeneous.
The readiness of some
consumers to invest in the necessary re-gasification terminals -
and the assumption that corresponding liquefaction investments in
developing countries will follow in uncertain markets where a five-year
lead time maybe perceived as too long - to receive LNG (Liquified
Natural Gas) reduces the dependence on the closest supplier which
is Russia. It has, as an added advantage, the fact that LNG prices
are not automatically indexed on oil prices.
Price-wise, the indexation
of the price of natural gas to that of oil, which is the case at
present, has its limits as in case of a strong increase in the price
of oil, which every pundit has been forecasting for the last half
a dozen years, nuclear energy could become an even more attractive
alternative than at present. More particularly, the cost of energy
produced by a nuclear power station remains essentially unchanged
over long periods of time, the risks being at a different level
- safety and availability of uranium.
An increase in Europe's
reliance on nuclear power would lessen its dependence on Russian
Investments in renewable
energies remain small and therefore any impact these sources can
have in a period of gas shortage remains marginal.
Improvements in energy
productivity would obviously have a major impact in gas imports
in consuming countries. So would the discovery of major gas fields
on the Old Continent, although production may be delayed by ecological
fears of contamination of the aquifers. Russia would be the country
most negatively affected as it is proceeding to develop fields that
are difficult, and thus costly, to operate. Thus, the Shtokman
project, in the Arctic, for instance, has been postponed.
An incitement for consuming
countries to obtain a stability of supplies consists in allowing
suppliers to acquire local companies and thus integrate downstream
in what is sometimes the most profitable end of the industry. However,
he European Energy Charter regulates sales of infrastructure to
non-EU companies. This has not stopped Russia's Gazprom from acquiring
a portfolio of companies and planning a major expansion downstream
even though Russia, just like Venezuela, restricts foreign investment
in their own infrastructure. Whether this will continue if demand
drops remains to be seen.
is one more parameter to be taken into account in a developing market
in which decisions on very large investments have to be made in
situations of great uncertainty.
Dawn of the Intelligent Planet
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, Id
like to thank the organizers of this event, for inviting me to speak
to you this morning.
Today, Id like
to share with you some fundamental observations that should lead
to a better understanding of how the future of technology must,
and will likely, unfold, so that our planet can evolve in a more
My talk today carries
the title: The Dawn of the Intelligent Planet
We can draw from this
title three implications:
- Something important
is about to begin
- It involves the
concept of Intelligence, and
- It doesnt
concern only the future of our local world, but also that of our
Today Id like
to talk to you about the next important evolutionary step of humankind,
which, I believe, will be known in the history books of the future
as the period of transition from Human Intelligence
to Human-Machine Intelligence!
We are all here to
participate in this amazing experience that will hopefully change
the future of humankind in a radically new, positive way. Now, let
me make a rather provoking statement:
The only way of ensuring
a safe and healthy evolution for our planet is by handing over all
of our vital decisions and planning tasks to intelligent machines.
Now, some of you may
immediately begin envisioning large packs of dangerously out-of-control,
gone crazy robots that will roam the planet, enslave
the world, and end the freedom of humankind as we know it. As a
former clinical psychologist, however, I can tell you that if these
fearful thoughts do cross your mind, you are clearly projecting.
That is, youre projecting your own predatory human nature
But let me allay your
fears at this point: No machine, no matter how intelligent, will
ever be as unpredictable and dangerous as humans are today. Computer
intelligence, as it will develop in this new era of human-machine
intelligence, will be much safer, reasonable, and predictable than
we, humans have ever been, at any time in our history. Just consider
this: You can take a hammer, and smash a notebook computer in front
of 50 other computers, and they will not even care, much less attack
you for it
If you are not convinced
yet, consider, for a brief moment, the collective human behavior
of the past few millennia! I believe the record speaks for itself:
Humans still are as they have always been: lethal predators, eager
to kill, tireless seekers of opportunities to expand their power
and possessions, regardless of the endless misery they inflict on
themselves and others.
Man has not changed!
Not since the very early dark ages of humanity, some millions of
years ago, when it all began. He is still the most dangerous and
rapacious of all the creatures on the planet. Along these lines,
man has built social, political and economic systems, which he has
named civilization and civilized behavior,
but which are nothing more than very clever ways of practicing his
ancient instincts of hunting and killing. To give a modern example,
man has invented financial markets: a zero-sum game,
where one can gain only at the expense of another, with no regard
to the collective detriment or the high cost that ones gains
may inflict on everyone else.
And yet, man also has
the most amazing and generous creative abilities, having produced,
over the centuries, unequaled artistic and technological masterpieces
that have indeed the potential of changing, for the better, his
life and that of all the other creatures on this planet. Man has
also invented machines. But like men, these machines can do nearly
everything and more. They can build or destroy; communicate or hide
in opaque secrecy; they can calculate, predict, make a space vehicle
land on Mars with the precision of a square-meter, or deliver a
deadly missile across 1000 miles into the bedroom window of an enemy
Now, the question we
must ask ourselves is this: with more than six billion humans on
the planet, equipped with these powerful technologies that can destroy
or built up the Earths valuable infrastructures, how do we
manage the ever accelerating evolution of more and more effective
machines, given mans unquenchable thirst for domination?
How do we manage mans willingness to engage in conflict, even
if it takes his own life, or that of millions of others? Can we
trust man in this more and more complex world to make local decisions
that have global effects? Human management of this planet is truly
Something is really
wrong here, because the human condition is not improving, in spite
of all our wonderful abilities and beautiful innovations. On a global
level, hunger and poverty are vastly increasing; economic distributions
on a global scale are dangerously unequal, and even in the best
of societies we have lost the sense of what is truly valuable in
life. We are increasingly the slaves of communication devices, overwhelming
information systems, and technology structures that have not adapted
to human needs but, rather, forced humans to adopt their lifestyle
to the intrusive technological infrastructures of this planet.
Only a few months ago,
I attended a public debate on the question if it were possible to
live a week without any communication devices: for one week simply
go back to the life we lived in the 19th century, with no phone,
no TV, no Internet; spending time with the family in the evening,
sitting together around the dinner table, and perhaps, reading from
an interesting book to the family, by way of collective evening
During this debate,
a lady in her late 80s, a former professor of history, explained
in great detail how it all was in her childhood. Things happened
very slowly then. People still had time to think. People lived in
some ways a harder life, but they were happier. The mental illness
of depression was much rarer in those days. By the end of the debate,
most agreed that a perfect vacation would be one without any technology
going back to basics
being off, rather then being
on all the time.
For me as a dedicated
futurist and technologist, this was a clear sign that we are still
missing a very essential ingredient, before technology becomes a
true and positive catalyst in human development. In other words,
we need to develop the next step in the evolution of humankind,
the Human-Machine Intelligence. What is at stake here is no less
than a process of co-evolution, in which humans and machines will
become partners in creating a new mentality and better forms of
life for everyone concerned.
Let us remember that
the development of technology is in fact a leading component of
global human development. We MUST become aware of and live up to
the exigencies of this new form of symbiosis and co-evolution. In
this room, we all are closely related to technological development
and its innovation. We are the people that are accountable for the
very important transitions of humanity in the future. We must live
up to this responsibility, today and in the future!
So let me summarize
my argument up to this point: if we are to usher in the dawn of
Planetary Intelligence, we need to attend to the co-evolution of
humans and machines. Ill now look, first, at the machine part
of the equation.
One of the fundamental
problems of todays technology is that it still requires the
participation of humans to function. In fact, we are occupied more
than ever to interact with all of these devices and machines that
we have build, rather than let them just do their work automatically.
Technology is absorbing us, rather then helping us.
Machines can do things
very fast, but humans are very slow in evaluating the results of
their performance. Again, the financial industry is a good example
here, where computer-based, algorithmic trading becomes more and
more a decision-processor in the millisecond space, where billions
of dollars are being exposed to transactions that can no longer
be followed by humans in real time.
On the one hand, machines
have evolved to a point where they can do substantial tasks, and
act and react at speed levels that are highly uncomfortable or even
intractable for humans. On the other hand, the machines of today
still lack true intelligence, and therefore, they can cause substantial
disasters, usually at high speeds that can substantially magnify
the negative results.
But we must also recognize
that computing machines are beginning to close the gap between learning
and acting. To refer, again, to the financial industry, computers
now begin to read all global news automatically, analyze its content
in milliseconds, and deploy trades instantaneously. But, of course,
there is a disastrously weak link in this technology: the logic
of executing trades is hard-coded by the so-called Quantitative
Analysts. Herein lies the whole problem: should there be a change
in the nature of data input, then the interpretation of these news
feeds must change as well. But the current generation of machines
cant react, they are not allowed to deviate from their hard-coded
instructions! Therefore, these machines are only half-smart. And
thats the point!
What is needed is intelligent
machines-- not hard-coded rules, but true machine intelligence.
systems are, as a rule, one of two types: logic-based or probability-based.
But researchers, including myself, have developed lately new technologies
and computer languages such as MITs Church, or my own Quantum
Relation Technology Language called for short QRT, that combine
the best aspects of each type, and make AI smarter, more humanlike.
It started with AI
researchers, back in the 1950s, who thought of the human mind as
a set of rules to be programmed. Thus, they developed systems based
on logical inferences: "if you know that birds can fly and
are told that the Eagle is a bird, you can infer that Eagles can
But with rule-based
AI, every exception had to be accounted for. And we learned the
systems couldn't figure out that there were types of birds that
couldn't fly; they had to be told so explicitly, by coding these
exceptions into the program. Later AI models gave up these extensive
rule sets and turned to probabilities: "a computer is fed lots
of examples of something - like pictures of birds - and is left
to infer on its own what those examples have in common."
Church and QRT are
both "grand unified theories of AI" with both systems
creating probability-based rules that are constantly revised as
the system encounters new situations. For example, a Church or QRT
program that has never encountered a flightless bird might, initially,
set the probability that any bird can fly at 99 percent. But as
it learns more about the Ostrich or the Penguins, and caged and
broken-winged birds - it revises its probabilities continuously.
Eventually, the probabilities represent most of the conceptual distinctions
that early AI researchers would have had to code by hand. But the
system learns those distinctions itself over time - much the way
humans learn new concepts and revise old ones. In the early years
of my research in defining new models of AI, I also called this
approach Human-Emulated Artificial Intelligence.
Today we know that
these new approaches surpass already current AI models. Newly developed
applications in which, for example, a QRT system was deployed to
make predictions based on a set of observations, did a "significantly
better job of modeling intelligent returns, than traditional artificial-intelligence
algorithms did in the past.
Of course, these new
technologies still need further improvements and specific operations
are extremely "computationally intensive" when they tackle
broader-based problems. I am sure that the Hardware division of
IBM is delighted about this fact, because it insures the prolific
sales of supercomputers well into the future.
is only the beginning!
New systems must begin
to model global problems, and must have the ability to understand
and process interdisciplinary problems in parallel, internally and
continuously. Such global systems must have the ability to contain
all local problems within; they must be globally connected and must
fully account for the butterfly effect.
And this, ladies and
gentlemen, requires the building of a fully interconnected and intelligent
planet! This, of course, also brings me back to the beginning of
my talk and to the other term in our co-evolutionary equation: the
Id like to say
this once again:
should not only solve systematic local problems, more importantly,
they must become an important and responsible part of global human
development. As one of my close friends and collaborators, Prof.
Mihai I. Spariosu from the University of Georgia, in the US, has
argued, global intelligence is the ability to understand, respond
to, and work toward what will benefit all human beings and will
support and enrich all life on this planet. Global intelligence
is based on the collective awareness of the interdependence of all
localities within a global frame of reference and the enhanced individual
responsibilities that result from this inter-dependence.
As no national or supra-national
authority can predefine or predetermine it, global intelligence
involves long-term, collective learning processes and can emerge
only from continuing intercultural connectivity, open dialogue,
and peaceful cooperation of all members of the planet.
The phrase what
will benefit all human beings in this context, however, should
not be understood in the utilitarian, restricted sense that implies
the excessive, materialistic focus over the wellbeing of humanity
in general. The new models of global intelligence will sooner or
later give humans back their freedom to no longer be overly concerned
with the management, or even the productivities of this planet,
but with the responsible enhancement, stewardship, and enjoyment
of its beautiful gifts.
The science fictions
of the 60s and the 70s in the last century always envisioned the
year 2000 as a futuristic society where computers did all the management,
and the robots did all the productivity. But the year 2000 came
and there is still no trace of such a society. What
is still missing is this unified theory of intelligence
that would enable us to build our societies, based on global intelligence,
which is in turn based on the co-evolution and symbiosis between
man and machine.
We are now working
towards such goals. But we must not stop developing the tools needed
to get there.
So, let me highlight
some of the basic technologies and infrastructures that need to
be developed to bring about the Intelligent Planet in
the foreseeable future:
- We need to develop
massive, supercomputer-driven, global knowledge centers that manage
all of the Earths open-source data globally, and analyze
its content in an interdisciplinary and intercultural form.
- We must connect
all these global knowledge centers, so that they can become a
globally connected mash of knowledge depositories
- We must also develop
a global mash of networked sensory devices and data extraction
technologies that collect information of any kind 24 hours a day,
7 days a week and transport such information in real time into
the knowledge depositories
- We must develop
the best AI solutions possible, to continually search our knowledge
depositories for deep-rooted patterns and understandings that
point to globally responsible opportunities and common planetary
- We must build access
technologies that allow anyone at any time to access these analytical
knowledge depositories and use its information at no cost, to
allow human development independent from economical power
- We must build broadcast
technologies that use a world-standard format, and continuously
broadcasting streams of data and information, which include any
type of risk or corrective information that may be vital to human
- We must develop
these solutions as global utility that remains free of charge,
and free of all political and dogmatic influences
- All vital human
services, such as global commerce, healthcare, education or even
governance must become a global solution with local subsets
- All local machine
intelligence must have full access to these automated global knowledge
- All global information
must remain open-source knowledge, available to all members of
10 points will be the vital base for the Intelligent Planet.
And finally, we must realize this:
Today, there is only
one serious technology player left on this planet that can take
us to this future, that is, the future of the Intelligent Planet.
The player I am talking about is IBM. It will take astronomical
amounts of investment into newer and faster hardware technologies,
comprehensive commitments to develop new global middleware and interconnecting
mash technologies, as well as other similar systems, to work toward
this Intelligent Planet
But one thing is clear:
We must make the Intelligent Planet our most important goal. Given
the complexity of modern society and the desideratum of continuous,
peaceful human development we MUST work toward its successful accomplishment,
and not be stuck in debates about its necessity.
So, I encourage everybody
in this room, to be part of one of the most challenging, but also
most rewarding frontiers of our millennium: The Dawn of the Intelligent
Dawn of the Intelligent Planet