Geologists are constantly searching for new sources of energy, but offshore drilling remains controversial. Environmentally sensitive areas can be damaged by oil spills, and water supplies are easily poisoned. Researchers feel that a majority of oil spills are caused by human error.
That’s why engineers are proposing automated oil rigs as an answer to many environmental problems. Oilrigs would have to be fairly intelligent if they operated on their own. Current designs call for only partial automation, but full automation could come in the near future as advances in artificial reasoning/computation are made. This would solve many of the problems associated with offshore drilling today.
Human error wouldn’t be an issue since computer controls couldn’t become distracted. Boredom is actually a serious problem when it comes to any long-term maritime operation. When people become bored they’re more likely to be distracted. Ennui can actually cost lives, but it’s not an issue that plagues machinery.
Heuristics algorithms would also be quite helpful. Advanced neural networks that emulate brain wave patterns could easily be applied to the field of oil exploration. Satellite systems have been able to use radar for locating new oil deposits, but this isn’t an exact science. Oilrigs linked by neural networks could locate deposits from the ocean and work them without any need for outside intervention.
This makes them particularly useful for areas where supplies of oil aren’t particularly plentiful. Automated oilrigs could periodically work small deposits and then move on after they’ve been drained. This methodology could supply somewhat ample supplies of fuel for countries that would otherwise have to import almost all of their energy.
While it might not be obvious to casual observers, these systems would actually have a beneficial influence on the environment. Considerable amounts of fuel are used to move energy resources between different countries today. Nations that are currently supplying all of their energy from foreign oil wells are increasing their carbon footprints as a result of moving fossil fuels between continents.
By working small deposits in these countries, they could supply up to half their own energy needs. This would have a beneficial influence on local economies as well. Patents would probably be the biggest issue with an emerging technology like this. Agencies that manufacture automated devices would probably want to maintain a stranglehold on the technology.
Open source development is a possible solution for these problems. Everybody would have access to open resources. When the threat of a patent infringement lawsuit is taken out of the equation, smaller countries would be more likely to invest in this type of technology. Automated rigs would actually be less expensive to operate than regular ones. They don’t require expensive crews either. While this is certainly an advantage, it could create some interesting labor problems.
On the other hand, automated mineral energy devices will become increasingly important in a society run by technology. Independent machines would have to collect their own energy sources, which means that automated oilrigs and other similar projects would become commonplace in the near future. It’s not hard to imagine engineers making similar devices to collect natural gas or mineral wealth in the future.
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