Integrating AI Safely into the Energy Industry

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a prevalent topic in the business world, with many industries exploring ways to harness its potential. One such sector is the energy industry, which must prioritize safety when implementing AI technologies. To understand the potential risks of AI, it’s important to examine past incidents such as the Therac-25 case. This notorious Canadian example involved a radiation therapy machine that relied on computer automation, leading to six accidents with radiation overdoses, some of which were hundreds of times the intended dosage. The Therac-25 incident underscores the need for rigorous safety measures and thorough testing in AI applications.

In the oil industry, ensuring the safe implementation of AI is crucial, as models must minimize errors to avoid catastrophes like pipeline leaks. So, how can we balance the risks and rewards of AI in the energy industry?

  1. Incorporate rigorous testing at every stage: Unlike traditional code, which typically behaves as expected, AI systems require extensive testing before and after deployment. At Venturi, we have the expertise to create digital twins of pipeline systems in simulated test environments. This allows for extensive AI testing and performance monitoring before deployment, mitigating risk and ensuring the AI performs as intended.
  2. Augment first principle models with AI: Instead of relying solely on AI for modeling complex fluid dynamics, companies like Venturi leverage AI to improve coefficients in first principle models. This multi-layered approach enhances the accuracy of fluid behavior predictions, leading to more efficient pipeline operations.
  1. Adhere to strict protocols and standards: AI applications in the energy industry must follow specific guidelines and best practices to ensure the highest level of safety.
  2. Recognize the limitations of AI: It’s essential to understand that AI cannot provide complete coverage or replace human expertise. AI’s capabilities are limited by human imagination; if we can’t envision a failure scenario, we can’t test for it. That’s why it is important to work with AI experts like Venturi that understands how to properly address the opportunity and downside of this technology. All that being said, AI has the potential to significantly boost efficiency in the energy industry when applied thoughtfully and with caution.

At the end of the day, the key to safely integrating AI into the energy industry lies in striking a balance between leveraging its potential and mitigating risks. We are not ready for AI to control and operate a pipeline on its own, we know for certain that the limitations of current AI could lead to failure at any point. AI is also limited to our imagination – if we cannot imagine how something can fail, we cannot test for it. But with enough imagination, AI can greatly increase the efficiency of pipelines and the energy industry at large.

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