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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Big Tech companies are making a splash with aggressive carbon reduction goals.
But as Orion Rummler reports that some of its employees and climate activists are criticizing Google, Microsoft and Amazon for partnering with fossil fuel companies to use artificial intelligence to find hidden hydrocarbons and bring them to market.
Why it matters: Major oil companies are some of the richest, most resourceful enterprises in the world. They collect multiple terabytes of data daily but don't have the capacity to analyze and efficiently utilize that volume of facts without AI.
The big picture: Critics say the fossil fuel partnerships undercut tech companies' increasingly aggressive climate and clean energy efforts.
What to watch: Global spending on AI in oil, gas and renewable energy industries is expected to reach $7.79 billion by 2024, per BIS Research.
Some ways AI is used for oil and gas:
Some ways AI is used for renewable energy:
Between the lines: Big Tech companies say that working with the oil industry isn't at odds with their climate commitments. In some cases, they're working with Big Oil on clean energy plans — like BP supplying AWS with renewable power.
Nearly two years after it promised to do so, Facebook has made a huge chunk of data available for research use in partnership with a new not-for-profit organization, Social Science One.
Why it matters: One way to better understand the impact that Facebook is having on society is to have academic experts analyze the data. The company, though, has been slow to release promised data.
Details: The billion-gigabyte dataset will let researchers see millions of links that users shared on Facebook over more than two and a half years, plus:
Both Social Science One and Facebook acknowledge the effort was harder than anticipated.
The big picture: Facebook first promised to release data to academics back in April 2018 as part of a foundation-backed project "to help provide independent, credible research about the role of social media in elections, as well as democracy more generally."
"No organization has invested more in this effort than Facebook, and we are committed to continuing to provide access to data for independent academic research while ensuring that we also protect people's privacy."— Facebook, in a statement to Axios in December
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Photo: Don Mackinnon/AFP via Getty Images
Every day it seems there are new charges being leveled against Huawei, but today it was literally new criminal charges that were filed against the Chinese networking giant.
Why it matters: The U.S. is engaged in an all-out effort to convince allies not to use Huawei in their 5G networks. The criminal complaint is a piece of that effort, though many of the charges deal with more modest allegations of corporate espionage rather than the kind of widespread spying that the U.S. has been alleging Huawei is capable of.
Driving the news: The Justice Department on Thursday announced a 16-count superseding indictment against Chinese telecom giant Huawei and its CFO Meng Wanzhou that includes charges of racketeering and conspiracy to steal trade secrets, Axios' Zachary Basu reports.
The bigger picture: The additional charges could ratchet up the potential penalties against Huawei, which was already facing charges for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Meng is currently in Canada fighting extradition to the U.S.
What they're saying:
Jeff Bezos. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
The big picture: Amazon claims the decision to hand Microsoft the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project in late October was influenced by President Trump, who has repeatedly and publicly taken shots at Amazon and its owner Jeff Bezos.
Axios' Fadel Allassan has more here.
If you haven't already, check out the reunion of astronaut Christina Koch and her dog after she spent a year in space.