Last week, Senator John Kerry cited a Saudi sheik who said: “The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones. The oil industry is not going to run out of oil.” Kerry, a strong advocate for renewable energy, was ridiculing the point as fantasy and suggesting the arrogance of the Saudi sheik.
A quick web search revealed the quote has been used many times and is attributed to sheik Zaki Yamani, who served as Saudi Arabia oil minister several decades ago. If it doesn’t piss you off and motivate you like it did me, nothing will. As it turns out, Yamani was a central figure in the 1973 Oil Embargo and formation of OPEC. He was also held hostage by Carlos the Jackal in 1975 and narrowly escape being murdered.
His oft-quoted words have been a rallying cry against fossil fuels, witness one F. A Dottori who used them in a 2007 presentation to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. It’s an interesting presentation even if he did not credit Yamani for his prediction (he may have in the in person presentation, but he didn’t in his paper).
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.