Front-running: Racing up the Innovation Curve with AI and High Performance Computing
September 28, 2018

As the grand disruption in the clean energy economy accelerates, let’s consider how artificial intelligence (AI) and high performance computing (HPC) will make the digital transformation dramatically different than previous transitions in power and energy markets. In Notes from the AI frontier: Modeling the impact of AI on the world economy, the McKinsey Global Institute attempts to simulate the outcomes of these emerging technologies. The discussion paper by Jacques Bughin, Jeongmin Seong, James Manyika, Michael Chui and Raoul Joshi suggests large potential for contributions to economic growth for early adopters of the technologies that offer the greatest competitive advantages. Companies that have the enhanced vision to design, build and activate innovative data platforms will no doubt be front-runners in consumer and worker preference.

The McKinsey paper identifies five AI categories 1) computer vision: acquiring, processing, analyzing and understanding data and digital images 2) natural language: interaction of computer and human words and images 3) virtual assistants: skilled, home-based professionals 4) robotic process automation: software robots or AI workers; and 5) advanced machine learning: algorithm creation and selection with an emphasis on concept over code. The ability to truly understand and become fully invested in the value of AI and HPC is critical to the advanced growth and development of countries, companies and workers. McKinsey projects that countries will widen the digital divide with strategic AI adoption that may create an estimated 20 to 25 percent net economic benefit from aggregated growth. Companies that effectively assimilate AI tools could achieve additional net cash flow growth of about 6 percent for more than a decade, while workers with high digital skills could grow from 40 percent to 50 percent of total employment.

Investments in highly sophisticated computing technology are certainly nothing new to the power and energy sectors. These companies have relied on state of the art technologies in their data, field and marine operations for decades. AI and HPC technologies now offer greatly enhanced visualizations of equipment, infrastructure, operational ecosystems and markets through the processing of vast amounts of data and images at nanoscales and astonishing speeds. Data “capture and construct” activities have become pervasive and indispensable in an increasingly collaborative and expansive body of knowledge. The race to provide AI as a function along with electricity and water is the golden opportunity for next gen utilities as they anticipate consumer preference in this grand disruption. Frank Palermo and the Forbes Technology Council offer some keen insights and observations in: Has AI become a Utility Function? They report investments by tech giants and startups at an all-time high. Google invested $30B in AI in 2016 with 90% R&D and 10% acquisitions and Gartner estimates $3.9T in AI-derived business value created by 2022.

KPMG Ignite provides a portfolio of AI capabilities such as technology platforms and ecosystems; frameworks and methods; data scientists and engineers; and, ongoing research, innovation and development. KPMG provides ample resources and support for companies as they begin to explore the AI value chain for their respective organizations to determine the best available technologies. The National Research Consortium at Innovation Pointe Labs (NRC) is a meta-research lab that leverages university, corporate, utility and government collaborative partnerships that develop and deploy innovative research to market technologies. Our initiatives are designed to make meaningful contributions in the transformations of the global energy, water and atmospheric systems and the built environment, while creating legacy based development with innovative data platforms.

 

This editorial completes the clean energy perspective we introduced in Animal Spirits in the Clean Energy Economy: Disruption, Plasticity and the Innovation Imperative. NRC is pleased to participate in National Clean Energy Week with an official proclamation from Governor Fallin and hopes to influence policy in Oklahoma’s clean energy economy that resonates on a national and global scale.

 

David Brent Grantham, MSc, MA

NRC Executive Director

September 27, 2018