Doomed Planet

Artificial Intelligence Scoffs at Bowen’s Grand Plan

The dystopian energy-famine future predicted in the Mad Max movie franchise may be closer than ever and it won’t take World War Three to make it a reality. While Teslas pile up unwanted at Port Melbourne’s in-bound freight terminal  and EV stall globally, they represent just the tip of an iceberg on which the Western world seems destined to founder in its mad rush to offset the alleged climate change purportedly being driven “by CO2 emissions.”

The fact that climate always changes, and that it’s mainly driven by natural cyclical forces beyond our control, is overlooked by political leaders pushing the green dream of “renewable energy” drawn from the unreliable intermittent sources of solar and wind power.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris “Blackout” Bowen and PM Anthony “Each Way” Albanese would like to see an EV,  electric scooter or bike in every Australian garage. This will do much to keep our firefighters busy, but it won’t change the weather. As former chief scientist Alan Finkel admitted to a Senate hearing several years ago, if Australia cut all its CO2 emissions immediately, its impact on world climate would be infinitesimal.

But in the unlikely event that EVs; popularity does surge way beyond the current rate of just eight percent of total vehicle sales, charging those batteries would place increasing demands on a power system already at risk of major blackouts. In its latest 10-year forecast, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) warned that millions of Australians face the risk of  blackouts without the “urgent” delivery of greater energy and transmission infrastructure.

Well, that alone might not tip us into the dystopian Mad Max future but combined with a seemingly insatiable power demand created by a villain masked as mankind’s new  hero, it just might. I’m referring to Artificial Intelligence or AI — the charmless i-bot that answers almost all government and major business phone calls, the source behind our internet searches and algorithms, the brain behind the helpful tools that do lazy students’ assignments, write novels (badly) or create nude images of anybody from a normal photograph. Get the picture?

Google is just one of the search tools getting in on the act, as I found when accessing emails recently and receiving the following invitation: “Try the best of Google AI at no charge”.

Use “help me write” in Gmail and Docs to quickly draft and refine content, or use Gemini Advanced to research and brainstorm using our most capable AI models.

And now massive fabrication centers are pouring AI chips into the mix as fast as they can be built. But, as one researcher notes, adding AI to a Google search” boosts the energy needed tenfold. And that’s only the first, perhaps the least, significant of the many possible applications for AI, sales of whose software are tipped to reach $126 billion by 2025.

An article in City Journal claims that the huge energy demand will make the type of energy transition our hapless leaders are trying to foist on us impossible. It claims that Nvidia,  the leading AI chip manufacturer,  has shipped about five million high-power  chips over the past three years, with each chip using roughly as much electricity each year as three electric vehicles. And while the market appetite for electric vehicles is sagging the appetite for AI chips is “explosive and essentially unlimited.”

To see what the future holds, we must take a deep dive into the arcana of today’s ‘cloud,’ the loosely defined term denoting the constellation of data centers, hardware, and communications systems.

Each data center—and tens of thousands of them exist—has an energy appetite often greater than skyscrapers the size of the Empire State Building. And the nearly 1,000 so-called hyperscale data centers each consume more energy than a steel mill (and this is before counting the impacts of piling on AI chips)….

I find that both scary and mind-boggling, to the extent that new mathematical measurement terminology has been developed to try to keep pace with the burgeoning energy demand all this is creating. Forget billions, trillions or zillions, that’s old-hat and doesn’t go anywhere near the AI power horizon:

One way to guess the future magnitude of data traffic—and derivatively the energy implications—is in the names of the numbers we’ve had to create to describe quantities of data. We count food and mineral production in millions of tons; people and their devices in billions of units; airway and highway usage in trillions of air- or road-miles; electricity and natural gas in trillions of kilowatt-hours or cubic feet; and our economies in trillions of dollars. But, at a rate of a trillion per year of anything, it takes a billion years to total one “zetta”—i.e., the name of the number that describes the scale of today’s digital traffic.

The numerical prefixes created to describe huge quantities track the progress of society’s technologies and needs. The “kilo” prefix dates back to 1795. The “mega” prefix was coined in 1873, to name 1,000 kilos. The “giga” prefix for 1 billion (1,000 million) and “tera” (a trillion, or 1,000 billion) were both adopted in 1960. In 1975, we saw the official creation of the prefixes “peta” (1,000 giga) and “exa” (1,000 peta), and then the “zetta” (1,000 exa) in 1991. Today’s cloud traffic is estimated to be roughly 50 zettabytes a year.

It’s impossible to visualize such a number without context. A zetta-stack of dollar bills would reach from the earth to the sun (93 million miles away) and back—700,000 times. ..”

Are you grasping any of this, Albo and Bowen? Do you really think covering an area bigger than Tasmania, including productive farmland and natural forests, with limited-life solar and wind farms and 28,000km of new transmission lines, all backed by billions in subsidies, will solve our future energy needs?

You will need to do a lot more to prevent an energy-starved future unless AI becomes sufficiently intelligent to realise it is rapidly progressing towards its own demise. It needs to  convince closed minds like yours that the only way to try to keep pace is to embrace clean, long-lasting, safe, modern nuclear energy as promoted by enterprising Brisbane teen Will Shackel, the young founder of Nuclear for Australia, and Opposition leader Peter Dutton. It’s a no-brainer, and many overseas states and nations are already on-board. Civilisation could depend on it.

John Mikkelsen is a former editor of three Queensland regional newspapers, columnist,  freelance writer and author of the memoir Don’t Call Me Nev.


19 thoughts on “Artificial Intelligence Scoffs at Bowen’s Grand Plan

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “ …. the only way to try to keep pace is to embrace clean, long-lasting, safe, modern nuclear energy.”
    My advice is to be careful what you wish for, particularly in the world of today.
    What is the probability of a core meltdown in a nuclear reactor if it is hit by artillery fire, or a surface-to-surface missile.? I would remind the author of this piece, John Mikkelsen that Chernobyl, scene of a recent major disaster which affected the whole of Europe, is in the Ukraine, which is now at war with Russia.
    If we travel down the nuclear path, we in Australia can have the highest standards of nuclear power station construction and operation, but it won’t matter a damn if every dodgy regime elsewhere in the world is also going nuclear according to its own criteria and standards.
    And what about the ongoing problem of waste disposal? (See It is like unto a fully loaded jumbo jet taking off from Sydney Airport and heading for the summit of Mt Everest; itself a most worthy destination, but with all on board hoping that by the time they get there, someone will have built an airport. It’s that dopey. (
    See also ‘Ukraine war: UN body urges restraint after Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant hit’ at

    • jim brough says:

      Nuclear power plants have been around since the late 1950s and the waste has been stored successfully . Perhaps you could point out evidence of its actual harm to the population. Few people know that spent nuclear fuel can be treated to remove the very radioactive elements and recover the large amount of low radioactive uranium for use in new fuel elements. Few people know that a third of the energy from a uranium comes from the fact that it makes plutonium and burns it to provide energy. The plutonium can be destroyed by incorporating it in new fuel elements called mixed oxide nuclear fuel, its not new but has been demonised because it contains plutonium. The plutonium isotopes involved are not suitable for making bombs.
      Fear of the bomb and radiation encouraged a huge amount of research into the effects of nuclear power generation on health and you will find an excellent source of information by reading The UNSCEAR 2000 Report which deals with all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle and the effects o nuclear bombs and tests.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        “Nuclear power plants have been around since the late 1950s and the waste has been stored successfully ” A good point. A little beewdy-bottler. Only another 250,000 years or so to go. And it’s all in stainless-steel containers.! What could possibly go wrong.?

      • cbattle1 says:

        One handy spin-off from the nuclear power generation industry is “depleted” Uranium metal, which is perfect for making armour-piercing projectiles. Due to its great mass (commonly referred to as “weight”), the Uranium projectile carries with it more kinetic energy to the target, but I’m not sure how “depleted” that Uranium is as far as the radiation risk goes.

  • Simon Mundy says:

    Mr. Mikklesen needs to cite some evidentiary backing for the relevance of his statement below to the current situation. The “… climate always changes, and that it’s mainly driven by natural cyclical forces beyond our control….” Yes, climate is constantly changing and on pre-historical timescales it has always been driven by natural cyclical forces. And, yes, these cyclical forces are indeed beyond our control.

    These facts, however, do not address the findings or assertions that, over the last century or so, these cyclical forces are now being joined by the increase in infra-red opacity of the lower athmosphere caused by an anthropogenic change to the CO2 concentration therein.

    It’s obviously an enjoyable polemical subject for him but I would prefer that Quadrant insist on some empirical support for rants on BOTH sides of this question.

    • pgang says:

      If you’d bothered to do your own research you’d know that the infra-red opacity of the lower atmosphere has long been saturated.

      • ianl says:

        Thanks pgang, you and I agree on this. CO2 interacts with a very limited infra-red frequency range but water vapour monsters almost all of it.

        Clearly Net Zero requires no water.

        • padraic says:

          Interesting comment, viz : “These facts, however, do not address the findings or assertions that, over the last century or so, these cyclical forces are now being joined by the increase in infra-red opacity of the lower atmosphere caused by an anthropogenic change to the CO2 concentration therein.”
          I look forward to someone showing the rest of us what detailed data the scientists of 1850 or 1750 had about the increase in infra-red opacity of the lower atmosphere caused by an anthropogenic change to the CO2 concentration therein.??? Any takers?

  • jackgym says:

    Chris Bowen should be wearing a cape.
    He’s a Super Moron.

  • Lytton says:

    Our so-called energy policy is a shambles. There is an over-ambitious reliance on renewables and now backtracking on progress with transmission networks, and use of gas for power generation. Florence is boring away but not progressing on Snowy 2.0. And even if all these problems are finally resolved by clever technical answers, the costs will be phenomenal and will have to be recouped from power consumers through their bills, or through write offs or subsidies which we all pay for in the end. The use of AI and its very large power requirements is an example of unforeseen developments on the demand side. Finally, since our contribution to global emissions is only about 1.3% of the global total, whatever we do and however reckless we might be in spending capital, it will make little difference to world climate trends (as Prof Finkel told the Senators very clearly). Not just a shambles but an ‘Omni-shambles’.

  • Mike says:

    Travelling Far North Queensland. Have seen lots of wind mills. Have yet to see one turning.

    BTW 1 Bitcoin / cryptocurrency mining requires massive electricity input.

    BTW 2 Artificial Intelligence requires considerable electrical input.

  • Mike says:

    Travelling in Far North Queensland. Have seen lots of wind mills. Have yet to see one turning. BTW 1 Bitcoin / cryptocurrency mining requires massive electricity input. www dot BTW 2 Artificial Intelligence requires considerable electrical input. www dot

  • pgang says:

    It seems to be something (else) that is creeping up on us. It’s the incredible inefficiency of cloud networking that gets to me. All that data constantly being uploaded and stored (almost never shared), and for what? The useful information storage is probably about a zepto* of a percentage point of the total. What’s it all for?
    Same goes for electronic coin ‘mining’, which must be the most energy intensive bit of uselessness ever dreamed up.
    Yet we become ever less productive, less meaningful, and less capable of originality. I think this mass wastage of energy and resources on digital memory, and the unimaginable levels of useless data storage overload, are a reflection of the vain fatuity of our post-civilisation.
    *zepto (z) is the SI unit representing 10 to the power of minus 21, the inverse of zetta.

  • robtmann7 says:

    I would not believe these unsourced estimates of electric power consumption by AI.
    Nuclear power is too slow to deploy, as well as too dangerous & expensive. Only the ignorant endorse it.

    • pgang says:

      Agreed that the energy claims for AI seem vastly exaggerated, but the overall energy/resource thirst of digital networking is worth keeping an eye on. Also agree re nuclear power. Seems so pointless for Australia. Just not a good fit.

    • jim brough says:

      Nuclear electricity takes too long to deploy has been the chant for many years to delay its use. Its happening again. The message from some many years ago was that nuclear would not save the planet because it would take too long to stop the doom. They are still playing the same tune 25 years later.
      Living for 90 years gives me a knowledge not available to high school idealogues whose brains are like stewed balloons at the service of manipulators.

  • cbattle1 says:

    I would venture to say that it is not the ever-increasing data swirling around that is causing the increasing demand for electricity, but it is the fact that at the core of the internet, IT, AI, and “smart devices” infrastructure is the “Transistor”, the electronic switch upon which logic circuits are built up. Along with the logic Transistor is the Power Transistor, and the Diode, and these components that are at the centre of all this are known as “Semi-Conductors”. As the name indicates, these mainly silicon-based components have resistance to the flow of electrical current, and that resistance results in heat. That is why your PC or Laptop needs a cooling fan; the faster the device operates, the greater the heat and the faster the fan spins to get rid of the heat waste.
    Before the invention of the Transistor, electronics started off using “Valves” AKA “Tubes”, which consisted of an evacuated glass tube or bulb, and required an electric heater element inside to “fire” electrons. These “Valves” consumed a lot of electrical power in order to work, the glass valve emitting a red glow and the glass became hot to the touch.
    Semi-Conductors were invented in the late 1940’s by Bell Laboratory* in the USA, and that has led to the situation we find ourselves in today. So, what to do? Generate evermore electrical power, or develop a Super-Conducting technology, that can do everything and more than the Semi-Conductors of today, with a fraction of the electrical power consumed that creates the waste heat. We will probably have to hold our breath for an undetermined period of time until such technology is fully developed and operational, and that could be a problem.
    * (Alternatively they were reverse-engineered at “Area-51” from the Space-Ship that crash-landed near Roswell NM.)

  • Max Chugg says:

    Albanese wants legislation, with draconian penalties for anyone publishing what ACMA, in its infallible judgment, deems to be misinformation. But the greatest spreader of misinformation, the government, will be exempt.
    For example, Chris Bowen has said several times that electricity produced by nuclear power is the most expensive,
    Since Finland opened the biggest nuclear-powered station in Europe, prices have fallen substantially
    Electricity prices are set by contract, with Vihreä Älyenergia Oy, whose six-month contract costs 9.97 cents per kilowatt-hour: 7.98 cents per kilowatt hour and €3.98 per month. Converting 9.97 cents to $A drops the price to around 6 cents per kilowatt hour, less if you discount the monthly charge.
    Solar and wind are touted as cheaper than nuclear, obviously this will change when hidden costs begin to bite, such as a future need to dispose of millions of dead solar panels. If a viable method of recycling these panels and windmill blades is not found, and quickly, a huge problem will exist for the next generation.
    The severity of a cold wave at the end of last year, with temperatures rarely seen in Finland and comparable to the cold winter experienced at the end of 1980s, did cause a temporary rise in price.
    Add to this the rapid recovery of Arctic ice and maybe the global warming/climate change bogeyman may yet be exposed to be nothing better than a charlatan.

  • James McKenzie says:

    Am clumsy at language but adapt at Science: alarmed that Quadrant is being subverted.

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