Beyond Mad Max with Dystopian AI

By John Mikkelsen

The dystopian future predicted in the Mad Max movie franchise may be closer than ever and it won’t take World War 3 to make it a reality.

To me the only ones worth watching were the original and its sequel starring homegrown hero Mel Gibson. Those drab desert landscapes from Mad Max 2 on, were traversed by fast supercharged fossil fuel powered vehicles without a single EV on the horizon.

So while the Teslas pile up unwanted at Port Melbourne and sales of EVs are declining globally, they represent just the tip of the iceberg on which the Western world seems destined to founder in its mad rush to offset climate change “driven by CO2 emissions.”

The fact that climate always changes and it’s mainly driven by natural cyclical forces beyond our control, is overlooked by political leaders pushing the green dream of “renewable energy” focussed on the unreliable intermittent sources of solar and wind power.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris “Blackout” Bowen and PM Anthony “Each Way” Albanese would like to see an EV, electric scooter or bike in every Australian garage which would certainly keep our firefighters busy, but it won’t change the weather.

As former chief scientist Alan Finkel admitted to a Senate hearing several years ago, if Australia cut all its CO2 emissions immediately, its impact on world climate would be negligible.

But in the unlikely event that EV sales do surge way beyond the current rate of just eight percent of total vehicle sales, it would place increasing demands on a power system already at risk of major blackouts. In its latest 10-year forecast, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) warned that millions of Australians faced the risk of electricity blackouts without the “urgent” delivery of greater energy and transmission infrastructure.

Well, that alone might not tip us into the dystopian Mad Max future but combined with a seemingly insatiable power demand created by a villain masked as mankind’s new hero, it just might. I’m referring to Artificial Intelligence or AI – the charmless i-bot that answers almost all government and major business phone calls, the source behind our internet searches and algorithms, the brain behind the helpful tools that do a student’s assignments or write a novel (badly) or create nude images of anybody from a normal photograph .. get the picture?

Sales of AI software are tipped to reach $126 billion by 2025.

Google is just one of the search tools getting in on the act, as I found when accessing emails recently and received the following message: Try the best of Google AI at no charge

Use “help me write” in Gmail and Docs to quickly draft and refine content, or use Gemini Advanced to research and brainstorm using our most capable AI models. Try at no cost/ dismiss.

I immediately clicked “dismiss”.

And now massive data centers are pouring AI chips into the mix as fast as manufacturing plants can build them. As one researcher notes, adding AI to Google “search” boosts the energy use per search tenfold. And that’s only the first, perhaps the least, significant of the many possible applications for AI.

An article in City Journal

claims that the huge energy demand will make the type of energy transition our hapless leaders are trying to foist on us impossible.

It claims that Nvidia, a leading AI chip manufacturer, has shipped about 5 million high-power chips over the past three years and each chip uses roughly as much electricity each year as three electric vehicles. And while the market appetite for electric vehicles is sagging and ultimately limited, the appetite for AI chips is “explosive and essentially unlimited.”

To see what the future holds, we must take a deep dive into the arcana of today’s ‘cloud,’ the loosely defined term denoting the constellation of data centers, hardware, and communications systems.

Each data center—and tens of thousands of them exist—has an energy appetite often greater than skyscrapers the size of the Empire State Building. And the nearly 1,000 so-called hyperscale data centers each consume more energy than a steel mill (and this is before counting the impacts of piling on AI chips)….”

I find that both scary and mind boggling, to the extent that new mathematical measurement terminology has been developed to try to keep pace with the burgeoning energy demand all this is creating. Forget billions, trillions or zillions, that’s old-hat and doesn’t go anywhere near the AI power horizon:

…One way to guess the future magnitude of data traffic—and derivatively the energy implications—is in the names of the numbers we’ve had to create to describe quantities of data. We count food and mineral production in millions of tons; people and their devices in billions of units; airway and highway usage in trillions of air- or road-miles; electricity and natural gas in trillions of kilowatt-hours or cubic feet; and our economies in trillions of dollars. But, at a rate of a trillion per year of anything, it takes a billion years to total one “zetta”—i.e., the name of the number that describes the scale of today’s digital traffic.

The numerical prefixes created to describe huge quantities track the progress of society’s technologies and needs. The “kilo” prefix dates back to 1795. The “mega” prefix was coined in 1873, to name 1,000 kilos. The “giga” prefix for 1 billion (1,000 million) and “tera” (a trillion, or 1,000 billion) were both adopted in 1960. In 1975, we saw the official creation of the prefixes “peta” (1,000 giga) and “exa” (1,000 peta), and then the “zetta” (1,000 exa) in 1991. Today’s cloud traffic is estimated to be roughly 50 zettabytes a year.

It’s impossible to visualize such a number without context. A zetta-stack of dollar bills would reach from the earth to the sun (93 million miles away) and back—700,000 times. ..”

What the …? Are you grasping any of this, Albo and Bowen? Do you really think covering an area bigger than Tasmania including productive farmland and natural forests with limited-life solar and wind farms and 28,000 km of new transmission lines, all backed by billions in subsidies, will solve our energy needs into the future?

You will need to do a lot more to prevent the dystopian future referred to in the Mad Max movies unless AI becomes intelligent enough to realise it is rapidly progressing towards its own demise. It needs to convince closed minds like yours that the only way to try to keep pace is to embrace clean, long-lasting, safe, modern nuclear energy as promoted by enterprising young Brisbane teenager Will Shackel, the founder of Nuclear for Australia, and Opposition leader Peter Dutton.

It’s a no-brainer, and many overseas states and nations are already on-board. Civilisation could depend on it.

John Mikkelsen is a former editor of three Queensland regional newspapers, columnist, freelance writer and author of the Amazon Books Memoir, Don’t Call Me Nev. (

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