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New Pathways for New Electric Age

New approaches await championing for cyber threat, business and environmental gains.

BOSTON - The electric sector is poised for major leaps in cybersecurity, use of machine intelligence and major climate change wins, experts told energy business and thought leaders at the annual Edison Electric Institute meeting here. 

Keith Alexander, former director of the U.S. National Security Agency, said, "Technology is doubling every two years. We live in exponential times."

Facing mounting cyber threats from Russia, Iran and North Korea, as well as other bad actors, utilities should seize the opportunity to better share data of security breaches with one another. When a foreign government is the culprit, they need to ally with the federal security agencies adapt at rolling back such threats, he said. 

Martin Rosenberg

Keith Alexander

"You can defend your networks together," he said. "We have to reimagine how we defend the country," Alexander said. "They will come after us."

"We need a cohesive plan for the government and private sector to work together," he said. 

Meanwhile, rising machine intelligence will drive unimagined gains across the grid and our economy, according to Andy McAfee, MIT digital economy expert.

Martin Rosenberg

Andy McAfee

"We are living in this age of technological astonishment. It is taking even the insiders by surprise," he said. 

"High-tech companies like Google are using new technological insights to achieve 40 percent reductions in server farm energy-related cooling costs," he said. 

Eventually the grid, like most of the economy, will be fully automated. 

"The boundary of the work we give to minds and the work we give to machines will shift very rapidly," he said. "There is a lot of room to make the generation and distribution of energy a lot better that will require a change in the mindset of leaders of the industry."

Martin Rosenberg

Gerard Anderson

Gerard Anderson, DTE energy chairman and CEO, said that the utility industry is pivoting so that it will be able to grow as transformation accelerates.

"Our ability to deliver on environmental outcomes is going to drive growth in our industry," Andersen said 


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