It's All About Energy

Author(s): Mark Anderson

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Published: August 9, 2023

By Mark Anderson

Why Read: The role of energy in the global economy, and in political and military affairs, cannot be overstated. In this issue, we look at technology's role in energy and the total economic impacts available through new opportunities.

Some time ago, I accepted an invitation from Warburg Pincus to keynote a meeting of investors in the oil and gas industries, held in Houston. No doubt they expected charts and a discussion about pads, drill rigs, prices, and cartels. Instead, I told them that they all had one thing in common: the covalent carbon-hydrogen chemical bond. That, I said, was the real basis of their businesses.

Afterword, one person said it was the best speech he had ever heard and tried to hire me on the spot. Another said it was the worst.

Welcome to the world of energy.

The reason I picked today's title for discussion, rather than "The Investment Landscape" or "How Energy Drives Technology," or its flip, or "Tech Driving the Economy via Energy" -

I picked this title because, the more you think about it, it's just true.

Berit Anderson reduced everything in physics to "The Universe in a Card," which, in metal form, became perhaps the world's weirdest, if not also coolest, petit truc.


And back:

The opening salvo on the front says it all:

"The Flow and Interaction of Energy and Time," followed by:

"What is flowing? Energy."


"Time is the interval we apply to measure the flow of energy."

The obvious – and, I think, true – claim is that the above few statements are the umbrella understandings for all of physics.

I have been handing out these cards to friends and acquaintances for a while now. Is it the most exotic collector's' item in the world? Sure. Do you have one? Not yet. Does Elon Musk? Nope. And this also serves the guerilla purpose of being a new way to evangelize the physics and concepts of my Resonance Theory. It's all true, so far, but if something goes sideways, this may still be the easiest way to get a free beer on a bar bet anywhere on the planet.

Fission and Fusion, Tech and Energy

It is relatively easy (in a sense) to read hundreds of books on the subject and yet come away with almost no real understanding of it. Here's a good sentence:

Energy drives everything in the world, and no one has a clue what it is.

We know from the second law of thermodynamics that energy flows "downhill" (into lower states) over time; see the back of our Card for details.

For a sub-summary:

Everything in the world is driven by energy. We know we can define energy in terms of work; and work is, technically, defined as Force x Distance. We know that chemical energy (burning things like oil, gas, wood) is an oxidation process, usually involving the breaking of the covalent C=H bond, resulting in CO2 plus H20 and E.

We also know that fission and fusion both also involve force – in this case, mostly what is called strong nuclear force.

We know that economic productivity is measured in terms of work outputs per unit time, or per something else: per person, per pound, etc.

And, to bring this all home, we can postulate that technology's purpose is, by some measure or other, to increase productivity.

And, as we know, productivity translates to money.

Technology helps us make money by using energy in novel and more productive ways.

Since this is what all of our members care about, one is tempted to declare victory and say, Class Over. But wait, there's more –

Wheat vs. Oil

When we look at Russia and Ukraine, what are we really seeing, beyond the politics? Russia makes its money from oil; Ukraine, from wheat. We oxidize the C=H bond in oil in cars, trucks, planes; in industrial settings. We burn the C=H bond in wheat by eating it, digesting it, burning it in our cells.

This mostly happens in our mitochondria; and if you equate higher energy with youth or health or life extension, you understand why mitochondrial function is one of the hottest topics in medicine today. Biotech, perhaps the most competitive aspect of technology, is all over this one.

Russia is crash-selling one C=H bond (and going to war) to get more of the other C=H bond.

Which brings us to another interesting question:

What Is Life?

People familiar with the Second Law, and the idea of entropy (energy dispersing over time), will have an easy path to agreeing that now we have a very simple definition we can apply to all things biological: since they are highly structured, and use energy to increase order, they are anti-entropic systems.

If, in inorganic systems, energy disperses over time, certainly it is the job of anything biological to do the opposite, ordering energy over time.

Now, one could make the counter claim that a crystal, for example, is highly ordered (true), and so the geological process that made it was anti-entropic (probably true), and so mountains and rocks are alive. It's an interesting concept and perhaps will win the second-beer bar bet after the Card has had its day. [This also highlights the Second Law paradox, which poses order against heat (or information vs. energy) as having inverted influences.]

In any case, we can at least say that all living things are anti-entropic. Their job is to create order and so to increase "local" productivity: make sugars, fight tigers and eat, write symphonies.

And indeed, we can see, in the life all around us, a beautiful simplicity, if we look only at the flow of energy over time.

We know that all our energy, ultimately, comes from the strong force (fusion) in the sun. Plants consume water and CO2, converting electromagnetic energy (photons) into C=H bonds. Animals eat plant C=H bonds, converting them back into CO2 and H2O. Fusion is the endless source, and C=H bond cycles are the whole story of energy on Earth.

Harvesting Photons, and Elon Dissing Feynman's Lectures

Oil and gas, limited in geography and production, have led to war almost since their first use as energy sources. It can be argued that most, if not all, of the wars in the Middle East have their roots in the control of oil deposits.

But the shift from fighting over C=H bonds to building out solar (photon) farms for direct electrical use of the sun's energy has led to today's very large programs in Saudi, the UAE, and other countries to move their economies beyond oil and into technology. They see the time when photons will marginalize oil and gas, and they're preparing for this transition today.

The beauty of photons as an energy source is not only their high count per day striking Earth and their multibillion-year future supply life, but, despite similar efficiencies to oil and gas, they have three great advantages:

  • No one has to go to war to benefit from solar power.
  • Photons are free.
  • Solar can scale infinitely, without even slightly reducing the resource.

These benefits have already led solar energy capture to become the least expensive energy source today, and that trend has every likelihood of continuing for the foreseeable future (at least until LENR, low-energy nuclear reactions).

This issue of cost is at the core of the "It's All About Energy" concept. We have long chafed at cartel price gouging with oil and gas, because the result is a general tax on every good and service on Earth, for the benefit of a few. The effects of this tax are ubiquitous and large.

If, on the other hand, we can amortize costs over the lifetime of a solar cell and extend that lifetime and the efficiency of the cells through technology, we have an immediate market opportunity that spans the global economy. Experts at efficiency, such as Oxford physicist Henry Snaith, have suggested that advances in materials science among the group of perovskites, combined with sandwich architectures, could almost double absolute efficiencies. This achievement alone would move efficiencies from the 27% peak range to something like 48%.

Essentially, photons vs. chemical bonds wins the contest hands down. Whether in cost, number, or lack of ultimate friction in the transaction, it's just hard to say anything nasty about photons.

[And, for myself and other friends of fellow member Elon: despite his recent disrespectful comments about Richard Feynman's lectures, we can easily suggest that Feynman's genius was twofold and special; but, as the most famous physicist of the last 50 years, it was not in physics. In our read, the father of quantum electrodynamics was: a) a brilliant mathematician; and b) a brilliant practitioner of pattern recognition. When combined, he was able to reduce top-heavy mathematics into a remarkable language of pictorial elements – perhaps the first and best-ever application of advanced pattern recognition to physical math. The lectures are a bit tough, but the work was superb.]

More inspiring, however, is that, even without any improvements in solar technology, the tech itself today, brought to scale, would dramatically reduce energy costs and prices worldwide.

How much money would human societies save by replacing C=H harvesting with photon harvesting over, say, five years? The planet consumed about 100B bbls of petroleum in 2019; at the current price of about $85.22 (brent crude), that would equal a total spend of, well, $85.22 x 1011. Or, about US$8.5 trillion. Oh, I forgot to add: that's per day.

Whatever the installation cost of solar to totally get off the C=H train, you can amortize it against something like $3.1 quadrillion per year, or $15.5 quadrillion over our five-year term. Keep in mind, the incremental cost of photon energy keeps going down over the life of the solar panel, as well as with technical improvements. And we're not counting the current subsidies for oil paid in the US and elsewhere.

So, finally, without being able to calculate the exact figures, it is almost without doubt that a quick move to photons would be similar to providing the biggest tax break in history to every producer of goods and services, worldwide (except oil and gas companies). And all the profits made by the technology providers and builders of the new ecosystem would be in addition to this amount.

Your comments are always welcome.


Mark Anderson

Quotes of the Week

"I think it's going to be transformative, and I think it's going to transform virtually every customer experience that we know." – Tim Cook, Apple CEO, on AI, last week; quoted in the New York Times

"ChatGPT is 'incredibly limited,' Altman writes, but 'good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness.'

"Currently, he says, it's a mistake to use ChatGPT for important tasks. The system is a glimpse of progress; in terms of robustness and reliability, there is still much work to be done, Altman writes." –

"Past performance history is not a guarantee of the future. It has always been the case in the past that we have had more jobs, that new jobs, new professions come in as new technologies come in. I think this one's gonna be different. And the real question is over what time scale? Is it going to be 10 years? Is it going to be a hundred years? And I don't think anybody knows the answer to that question.

"I think in the long run, so-called artificial general intelligence really will replace a large fraction of human jobs. We're not that close to artificial general intelligence, despite all of the media hype and so forth. I would say that what we have right now is just a small sampling of the AI that we will build in 20 years." – Gary Marcus, an AI expert and Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience at New York University; quoted on

"'GPT-4 (March 2023) was very good at identifying prime numbers (accuracy 97.6 percent),' the [Stanford and UC Berkeley] researchers wrote in their paper's abstract, 'but GPT-4 (June 2023) was very poor on these same questions (accuracy 2.4 percent).'

"'Both GPT-4 and GPT-3.5,' the abstract continued, 'had more formatting mistakes in code generation in June than in March.'

"This study affirms what users have been saying for more than a month now: that as they've used the GPT-3 and GPT-4-powered ChatGPT over time, they've noticed it becoming, well, stupider." –

"In March the version-4 chatbot would answer 98% of the questions. By June it only gave answers to 23%, often deferring with extremely brief responses-saying the question was subjective and as an AI it didn't have any opinions." –


The Investment Climate

As predicted earlier, all signs are now good, particularly from the US perspective: big tech is back (except Apple down 1%), inflation is down, and recession seems unlikely.

Now, if the Fed will just take a vacation, all should be well in the equity markets for the near term.


Special Alert: Russia's Battle Plan, Part II




One comment: it's "Ukraine" not "the Ukraine." Ukraine is a country, not a region or collection of states/nations like "the US" or "the UK."

Marcus H. Sachs

Chief Security Officer
Huntsville, Alabama


Thank you; a number of members pointed out this now-obvious mistake.

I wonder what Tolstoy would think. I guess we already know what Putin thinks.

Mark Anderson


Well worth the 15-minute listen:

Securing the Future with AI: Eric Schmidt / Chair of the Special Competitive Studies Project, Former CEO and Chairman of Google – DEEPER LOOK | NHK WORLD-JAPAN On Demand

Patrick Hogan

[NASA Emeritus Earth Scientist
Project Lead,
Returning to a Better World
Mountainview, CA]

[P.S. Later, regarding our "Special Alert: Russia's Battle Plan II":]


Homo Stupidus, dominated by the most horrific element of our Nature,

speak well to Life in the Big U.

Either support and sustain Life,

or do what 99.9% of Earth species have done, go extinct.

And thereby continue the true behavior of Mother Nature.

Too many innocents have already endured too much horror.

Be it our 'aggressive' tribal warrior-ism,

feudalism, billionaires, or 93% of Congress

dependent on who spent the most in service

to the Capitalist warlords.


It hurts so much to watch. . . !

Sidelined as we good-hearts are.

What does Pattern Computer say?

When looking at the truly 'Big Picture'?'

I wonder. . .

So, now working with the kiddos,

substitute teaching, the kinders,

I get to revive my spirit,

in the face of so much unnecessary pain.

– an old amico, Buona Sera!



In this interview, Eric Schmidt says: "But I'm showing that we didn't give autonomy to these (AI/GPT) systems; as they become more capable of autonomous thinking, we're going to put guardrails on them."

I tend to agree with almost everything Eric has been saying since GPT came out, but I'll have to disagree here. And, to be fair to Eric, one of my two reasons has occurred since he spoke on this.


1. This is the more important one: Since the GPT release, I have been saying that it is technically impossible to use the idea of guardrails to keep people from harm; to keep the system from making failures of truth and trust.

2. Last week, as an indication of this, a research team claims to have found a way around any and all guardrails, and further claims that anyone can do it, and further claims that there is no technical fix for it.

A simpler way to say this is: it is the thing that is most broken, which is the core of how it works. In other words, it is in the nature of just providing greater context that the system is prevented from providing truth or trust.

Because of this, we now see a rather dizzying spiral upward of lawsuits filed, against all involved, including OpenAI, Microsoft, and many others. At the same time, we find a dizzying spiral downward in the power and abilities of GPT itself, particularly version 4.0. (See "Quotes of the Week" above.) Even more interesting is the relation of the gap in understanding between the authors of this software and why and how it does what it does – the very definition of Explainable AI (XAI), which GPT does not allow.

This is no doubt why Eric and Elon have both publicly espoused the need for XAI, in this new, untrustworthy compute environment of GPT.

And while Elon has named his newest response to this problem at least three different flavors of the not-trademarkable common term xAI, at Pattern Computer™, (a company I run) we have had multiple products and engines providing mathematically defined XAI. Indeed, although my friend Elon named his company xai, he has no XAI products. Pattern, on the other hand, has the TrueXAI™ family of products in explainable AI, including ICEXAI and NeuralXAI (just announced).

Pattern has been using XAI for years now, and it remains, according to Berkeley National Lab, the only company to have this important ability. It is important because we, as a society, must not depend upon tools like GPT that have "the black box problem"; i.e., that even the authors cannot understand, in terms of how and why the system has made an accurate prediction when it does.

Thank you, Patrick, for pointing out someone – Eric – who understands the critical importance of Trustworthy Computing vs. GPT and of where we need to go next.

Mark Anderson

Copyright © 2023 Strategic News Service LLC

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mark anderson

Mark Anderson

Research Fellow

Mark Anderson writes the most accurate predictive reports covering the computing and communication industries. His weekly Trends and Predictions posts cover must-have information for strategy development and business technology planning, and are followed by technology executives and investors worldwide including Bill Gates, Paul Jacobs, Michael Dell and more.

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