Thanks Mark for sharing this innovative solution to hard-to-reach oil and the 3D prototyping that assisted the development! Very fascinating to learn about the new advances in technology that are allowing economic recovery of difficult to access oil resources. I think the question of whether 3D printed materials will achieve economies of scale in the oil and gas industry is an interesting one given the “finite” nature of the industry (for lack of a better term). Peak oil demand is expected to occur in the next two to three decades (or as soon as the 2020s if countries adhered to the terms of the Paris climate accord) and at some point countries and companies alike will need to commit to a significant decrease in dependence on fossil fuels in order to mitigate the impact of climate change. Will 3D printing reach economies of scale prior to this point, or are companies like Shell better suited to investing in renewable energy and cleantech to get capitalize on this trend?
Given the difficulty of retaining and recruiting top talent, the DoD must source innovation from externally as it is critical to national security. Although it may not be able to pay top wages to compete with tech companies for the scarce amount of advanced programmers, many companies and “ethical hackers” will be willing to help the DoD and government agencies (especially for a fee).
One question that I have is will all future innovations and discoveries that the DoD is crowdsourcing be ethical? I am reminded of the FBI paying to hack the phone of the San Bernardino shooters. There was immediate controversy over the hacking and Apple’s response to the government request to unlock the phone. A private company was paid for the hack instead, raising the ethical issue of privacy. Another concern is that private actors finding bugs and breaches in the system may also be incentivized to sell this information to actors that are national security threats. Although crowdsourcing could play an important role in DoD innovation and security, there are some important considerations going forward.
Excellent topic to write about and cybersecurity attacks will be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) threats to our national security going forward. Should either our energy grid or financial services infrastructure be taken out by a cyber attack, the damage would be unimaginable. Our energy grid faces thousands of attempted attacks every month – and Symantec recently discovered that the networks of more than 20 energy companies had been compromised by hackers. In 2015, a quarter of a million people were left without power in the Ukraine after a successful cyber attack on the energy grid.
The cybersecurity industry will become increasingly reliant on machine learning and AI to detect threats to the system. You raised a very interesting point about false positives – one way to ensure a company’s focus on investigating these flags is to assign a probability of the flag being a serious threat (i.e., similar to Watson’s confidence in having the correct Jeopardy answer). This will ensure that the IT team will be spending time investigating the threats with the highest likelihood of being a true compromise in the system. As Darktrace continues to refine its machine learning and cybersecurity product, these ability to assign probability and identify actual threats will only continue to improve and provide a powerful defense against cyber attacks.
Very intriguing topic to write about – Elon Musk’s ability to continually generate brilliant ideas and will them to execution never ceases to amaze me. However, this idea he has largely passed on to others to execute. In response to your first question, I would suggest pairing the teams up with infrastructure investors (ideally with experience in the associated local markets) to continue to incentivize the teams and assist them with the implementation phase. There is a large amount of capital looking to be deployed in the infrastructure space, and investors have extensive project development experience. To address the second question, I am not sure a hackathon is the best approach to solving technical issues with cutting edge, brand new technology. I believe the problem is best addressed through full-time employees that have experience working for VHO’s R&D team and the development history of the technology.
Fascinating topic Starwars – I agree 3D printing will become a crucial aspect of space exploration and colonization. NASA is also pursuing several avenues of research around 3D printing, including turning space station waste into 3D printing filament. They are also exploring 3D printed habitats as well, which theoretically could be built on Mars even before humans step foot on the planet. That said, until the economics become more attractive I envision 3D printing more likely serving as a solution for emergency situations (e.g., a part has broken and needs to be replaced).
The interest in space exploration has decreased significantly since the late 1960’s and early 1970’s – no man has been on the moon in over 45 years! However, Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) have reinvigorated the public interest in space exploration and will hopefully continue to drive innovation in the industry forward. 3D printing will almost certainly play a role in the future of space travel.
Thanks Tom_Challenger for the very interesting essay – you cover some very important points about the emergence of a smart grid and a decentralized energy model. I agree that the ability to interconnect both the demand and supply sides to allow for information sharing will be key. One of the major challenges utilities will face is dealing with an increasing amount of households adopting distributed generation with battery storage and largely disconnecting from the grid. Utilities will have less customers to socialize the costs of the transmission and distribution system across, and will need to reduce costs in other ways. In this situation, utilities like Enel will need to rely on these technologies mentioned (demand response, energy efficiency, storage etc.) to address potential issues of a more decentralized energy model.
One area I envision significant opportunity is electric vehicles serving as distributed storage units to balance demand peaks and valleys. This will require significant information sharing between the end customer and the utility, but machine learning can be utilized to most efficiently draw from the vehicle battery at peak power prices and power the battery back up during the lowest cost hours. As a steep increase in the adoption of electric vehicles is likely right around the corner, this is an area that utilities should be following closely.