Energy Crisis: La Grande Bouffe (Part 1)

Energy Crisis: La Grande Bouffe (Part 1)

Without energy there is neither construction nor maintenance of any structure, without energy there is no growth and no multiplication. Following this principle, the Austrian zoologist and oceanographer Hans Hass developed his energon theory.[1] This was intended to bring together the conceptual system of different sciences and represent them through a unified structure and conceptual system. His theory is considered pseudoscientific and has therefore hardly been received. Not entirely rightly, in my opinion. Hans Hass' basic idea is that permanent survival is only possible for all structures if they can constantly improve (or at least maintain) their energy balance. Energy is thus - literally and figuratively - a central element of domination. And as with every instrument of domination, the promise of salvation and oppression are closely related.

Digitalisation eats up energy
We are supposed to save energy - to save the climate, to bring Russia to its knees, and to become better people in general. We know what we have to do in winter - put on jumpers, turn the heating down and shower as rarely as possible. People who are cold have less body odour.

But joking aside, the issue is serious. The G20 is responsible for 80 % of global energy consumption, China alone for a quarter.[2] Yet total energy consumption - measured in megatonnes of oil equivalent - in Europe has remained almost the same since 1990 (1.780; 2021: 1.787). In Asia, on the other hand, energy consumption has tripled in the same period!

In terms of electricity, China is the undisputed leader with 7.714 TWh (2021). This is all the more remarkable because China wants to secure its electricity self-sufficiency with coal-fired power plants - this country accounts for more than half of global coal consumption. In second place in electricity consumption is the USA (3.869 TWh), which in turn is the world's largest consumer of natural gas and oil (862 bcm and 700 bcm respectively). The International Energy Agency predicts that global energy demand will increase by another quarter by 2045.

"We are racing forward to do our part to avert the "climate hell" that the U.N. Secretary-General so passionately warned about earlier this week."[3]

When Joe Biden issues this motto in his speech to the World Climate Conference in Sharm-el-Sheik, the EU knows it has to act. On the agenda of EU energy policy [4] is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 % compared to 1990; increasing the share of renewable energy sources in energy consumption to 32 %; increasing energy efficiency by 32.5 %. The Germans in particular are playing the eager model pupils, because "nothing helps the climate more than energy that is not consumed in the first place."[5] This is how the German thinks.

The American - again Joe Biden - thinks like this: "Folks, we are proving that good climate policy is good economic policy. (Applause.) It's a strong foundation for durable, resilient, inclusive economic growth. It's driving progress in the private sector. It's driving progress around the world."[6]

Let's think back to Hans Hass' basic idea: for successful survival, the energy balance must be improved. The Americans are trying to do this at Europe's expense. If Joe Biden were honest, he would say to the Europeans: save energy, so that our technostructure can consume even more energy! The big eating (La Grande Bouffe) has only just begun!

Race for supremacy
It is estimated that 10 % of the world's electricity consumption already goes into the production and operation of digital devices. For the use of digital devices alone, consumption is expected to increase by 50 to 80 % by 2030. According to a recent study by the Robert Bosch Foundation [7], the energy consumption of Alphabet and Meta has roughly tripled in the past five years. In addition, there is the steadily growing energy demand for data centres, the backbone of digitalisation. According to estimates, there are currently just under 500 data centres in Germany, and more than 260 in France (which is more centralised than Germany) [8]. According to a study by the European Commission, the energy consumption of data centres increased from 53.9 TWh/year to 76.8 TWh/year between 2010 and 2018. By 2025, average estimates suggest that energy consumption will increase by a further 25% to 92.6 TWh/year.[9]

However, the really big hunger is for high-performance computers, also called supercomputers. These have left the research labs behind and are now supporting businesses worldwide. Forecasts estimate the market growth potential from $36.0 bn in 2022 to $49.9 bn in 2027, with an average annual growth rate of 6.7 %.[10] Power comes at a price: a typical supercomputer consumes on average between 1 and 10 megawatts for power and cooling, equivalent to the electricity needs of nearly 10,000 households. Currently the most powerful supercomputer, Japan's Fugaku, consumes app. 30 megawatts per day, as much electricity as 175,000 conventional desktop computers, and requires enormous amounts of water for cooling.[11]

The race for the fastest and most powerful "miracle machine" has long since begun. The energy input is enormous, as the hope is for an effective and global instrument of power. The paradox of this race and the disgusting waste of energy can be seen in the latest flop of the quantum chip Sycamore: in 2019, Google was celebrated for the fact that Sycamore solved a special task in 200 seconds, for which other supercomputers would have needed 10,000 years. A Chinese physics team now solved the same task in 15 hours with 512 GPUs, using a different methodological approach.
Russian AI expert Anton Kolonin summed it up well in a recent commentary [12]:

"The fact is that all modern solutions based on modern classical computer architectures, including artificial neural networks implemented on "central processing units", multi-core multiprocessor systems and even on graphics cards, have both extremely high power consumption and extremely low parallelisation levels compared to the computational properties of the central nervous system of animals. Modern computer systems, even those not yet comparable in intelligence to mammals, already exceed the power consumption of the biological human brain by many orders of magnitude."

Instruments of domination of the technostructure
So we know that the energy input for the development of these super machines is probably beyond anything previously imagined. And we also know that humans are still visibly far from their goal of creating a truly "artificial intelligence". Yann LeCun, senior AI specialist at Meta, recently commented on this very succinctly [13]:

"You know, we're not to the point where our intelligent machines have as much common sense as a cat. So, why don't we start there? What is it that allows a cat to apprehend the surrounding world, do pretty smart things, and plan and stuff like that, and dogs even better?"

With that, we learned that we have to save energy so that the technostructure has enough resources. We have understood that it is about the development of machines whose use and control promises power of domination. We have known since the conditional and unprecedented promotion of mRNA technology that states and their institutions are corruptible. To improve the energy balance of Big Pharma, millions of people have to make sacrifices - they pay with their health, maybe even with their lives.

Now it is the energy balance of the technostructure that is at stake. And again it is the states and their institutions that are in the service of the evil cause. Climate change and the Ukraine war are used as a pretext to literally take energy away from the people. This time they are paying with inflation, recession, creeping dispossession, impoverishment and growing dependence on the digital tentacles of the technostructure.

At the beginning, I said that in every instrument of domination, the promise of salvation and oppression are close to each other. As a representative of many projects, I would therefore like to introduce the project to you at the end of this first part. After all, you should know what a brave new world awaits you if you behave appropriately now! It is a research project on collective intelligence with the aim of improving humanity through collective intelligence systems, policy advice and e-governance.[14] The leading head, the self-confessed transhumanist David J. Kelley[15] , finds political communication too time-consuming, error-prone and incomplete. His graph databases could communicate with each other quickly and without loss, around the clock. In addition to all the benefits to local and regional governments, many national benefits can be achieved, such as foreign policy advice, international trade, immigration, tax reform, and new opportunities for cooperation with other nations using Norn systems.[16]

Having learned from Yann LeCun that our intelligent machines do not yet have as much common sense as a cat, we should probably not leave the design of our society to the graph databases of the technostructure. Where and how our society can improve its energy balance and what suggestions we can get for this from Hans Hass, you will soon read in the second part of this article.

This article was first published in Courrier des Stratèges on November 17th, 2022.

[1]Hans Hass: Energon. Das verborgene Gemeinsame. Fritz Molden (Verlag), 1970