Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be far more disruptive than most people believe. A group of scientists at Princeton thinks AI can make one of the most disruptive energy solutions of all; hot fusion, a reality.
An application called the Fusion Recurrent Neural Network (FRNN) code might be able to predict the behavior of experimental fusion reactors, a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physical Laboratory (PPPL) indicates. FRNN employs an AI technique called Deep Learning in an effort to better understand hot fusion.
“Deep learning represents an exciting new avenue toward the prediction of disruptions,” PPPL physicist and Princeton astrophysics professor William Tang said. “This capability can now handle multi-dimensional data.”
Predicting the Disruptions might Make Fusion a Reality
Scientists can now create fusion reactions, but they cannot control them because the process is unstable. Disruptions such as the sudden collapse of temperature and explosions are common. That makes hot fusion potentially dangerous because it can employ potentially explosive gases like Hydrogen.
The FRNN has been able to predict “disruptive events” at the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion reactor in England. The PPPL thinks FRNN would be able to predict similar events in the world’s largest fusion experiment the $14 billion International Thermonuclear Reactor (ITER) in France.
The FRNN is designed to work in Tokamak fusion reactors like JET and ITER. The press release did not say whether FRNN would work with Stellarator reactors like Germany’s Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X). The Stellarators use a different design that Tokamaks, but logic predicts that FRNN would work with them.
Nor is it clear if FRNN has been tested with the ARC tokamak reactor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). ARC is designed to prove that practical hot fusion reactors can be built with off-the-shelf components.
Will AI Ignite the Hot Fusion Revolution?
The combination of off-the-shelf technology and deep-neural networks FRNN might make hot fusion feasible. A possible scenario would be researchers all over the world including garage inventors using AI like FRNN to create all sorts of fusion devices.
“Training deep neural networks is a computationally intensive task that requires the engagement of high-performance computing hardware,” Alexey Svyatkovskiy, a big data software and programming analyst in the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering explained.
“That is why a large part of what we do is developing and distributing new algorithms across many processors to achieve highly efficient parallel computing,” Svyatkovskiy said. “Such computing will handle the increasing size of problems drawn from the disruption-relevant database from JET and other tokamaks.”
Distributing such algorithms might soon get a lot easier; a group called Golem is trying to build a worldwide supercomputer on the blockchain that anybody can access. That means it might soon be possible for garage inventors to create or access solutions like FRNN.
What happens when deep neural networks like FRNN get out on the cloud and anybody can access them? Will people be building fusion devices in garages and the backroom, the way they built computers in the 1980s?
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, computers that were giant centralized machines that only large organizations could afford – much like today’s fusion devices. What happens when hot fusion; or the technology to create it, gets dispersed to the masses? Disruption on a scale rivaling or exceeding the computer revolution of the 1980s and the internet boom of the 1990s would be probable scenarios.
How Hot Fusion can disrupt everything
Investors need to think about this because practical hot fusion can lead to disruption of almost the entire economy. Hot fusion is a nuclear reaction that produces no radiation.
Theoretically, hot fusion can create vast amounts of heat that can be used to generate almost unlimited amounts of electricity without producing pollution. The disruption from that development would be incredible.
A few potential effects of hot fusion might include:
- Putting the coal and natural gas industries out of business and killing hundreds of thousands of jobs.
- Making it possible for governments to give free or incredibly cheap heat and electricity away to large segments of the population. Anybody that does not think politicians would jump at this opportunity, has no understanding of human nature.
- Making electric vehicles practical by creating super-cheap electricity.
- Making Elon Musk’s Tesla Electric semi-tractor a practical alternative for the trucking and retail industries by providing vast amounts of electricity. Charging one Tesla semi would take enough power for an entire town.
- Making it possible to build gigantic ships, aircraft (such as SHIELD’s flying aircraft carriers from the Marvel Comics and movies), locomotives, earth movers, and war machines. Fusion would make such constructs practical by providing the power for them.
- Powering a new generation of weapons such as laser cannons, automatic cannons, giant Gatling guns, and rail guns.
- Making massive industrial processes such as steelmaking possible without pollution.
- Solving the problems of garbage and hazardous waste. Such noxious materials can be instantly disposed of by simply pitching them into the fusion reactor where they would be instantly and totally incinerated.
- Making unlimited mining of cryptocurrency possibly. Currently, cryptocurrency mining capacity is limited by electricity prices. Super-cheap power would make unlimited cryptocurrency volumes possible, and destroy the value of altcoins like Ethereum which lack a limit on the supply.
- Putting the nuclear power industry out of business. Present day reactors use nuclear fission which creates radiation hazards and generates large amounts of nuclear waste. To make matters worse, some of the by-products from fission can be used to build nuclear weapons and dirty bombs.
- Making it easier to prevent the building of nuclear weapons; and dirty bombs, by getting rid of the radioactive materials those engines of mass destruction are built from. It might even be possible to ban many radioactive materials if fusion were to replace nuclear fission.
- Ending the menace of nuclear waste because it can simply be pitched into the fusion reactor and burnt up.
- Getting rid of miles of power lines, because reactors can be built right in cities or close to them.
- Eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the electric-power industry. Linemen might become a thing of the past.
- Putting the green energy industry especially wind turbines out of business. This too would kill tens of thousands of jobs.
- Enabling power dams to be decommissioned and torn down.
- Powering super-fast next-generation transportation systems like the Hyperloop and high-speed trains.
Such disruption would be vast and it would go on for decades or generations. Unfortunately few people seem to see hot fusion coming, even though it might almost be here.
In 2015, MIT Physics Professor Dennis G. Whyte predicted that would be possible to build a practical hot-fusion reactor from off-the-shelf components in 10 years. It looks as if artificial intelligence and deep learning might make that prediction a reality. Get ready because hot fusion is almost here, whether we are prepared for it or not.