Posted on April 24, 2018 by Ashleigh Cowie
ARX Maritime, Chief Executive, Josh Hutchinson looks at how artificial intelligence is impacting the maritime industry and questions whether one day, artificial intelligence could take over from human intelligence completely.
There is a “D” word in the maritime industry that won’t be going away any time soon. It’s a word that impacts every aspect of our everyday lives; digitalisation. It’s the process of questioning existing methods and practices to make them more efficient with the use of digital technology. Although it’s often associated with futuristic ideals, digitalisation is nothing new, the term has been around since the late 1950s, starting with digital computers and digital record keeping. Since then, we’ve accepted and embraced it, and have become steadily more dependent on it.
Taking this one step further is the new buzzword in shipping… Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is the development of computer systems that are able to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
The maritime industry is already embracing artificial intelligence. ABB Group and IBM announced a strategic collaboration combining ABB’s digital offering, ABB Ability TM, with IBM’s Watson Internet of Things. The digital partnership means that customers will benefit from the domain knowledge and digital solutions of Watson IoT, as well as IBM’s expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning. For example, ABB and IBM will leverage Watson’s artificial intelligence to help find defects via real-time production images that are captured through an ABB system, and then analysed using IBM Watson IoT for Manufacturing.
So, who will voice the biggest concerns about artificial intelligence? It won’t be the ship owners or charterers, or the big maritime powerhouses, it will most likely be the seafarers themselves. AI will remove the need for humans to process data- instead of collecting, learning and controlling the results manually, it will all be done by a computer. So by taking away the need to learn this, is artificial intelligence lessoning actual intelligence?
INTTRA recently published a whitepaper: ‘How Artificial Intelligence Can Power Growth and Opportunities in Global Container Shipping’. The paper highlights the impact that AI will have on the maritime industry going forward: “Digitalization is impacting every industry and ocean container shipping is no different.”
Authors of the report, President and COO Inna Kuznetsova, CTO Peter Spellman and Interim Head of Product Management Karim Jumma, then go on to suggest that trends drive organisations to focus on smart, technology-driven management to reduce expenses and increase efficiency. And as this focus has been determined, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain have become the most talked about transformative and disruptive technologies in the industry. The whitepaper predicts:
“Over the long term, these technologies will massively improve our ability to deliver goods and services, as they’re applied to every step of shipping, from land-side to terminals to ocean”.
Although AI assists in the completion of tasks, and will inevitably continue to do so, as it exists in its current state, it is a great assistant and nothing more. AI is developed enough, and our ability to use it is not advanced enough to overtake the skill of human intelligence and judgement. For example, an AI computer may be able to predict weather changes to create a more efficient shipping route, but it won’t be able to manually fix an engine that requires 20 years of mechanical experience.
ARX Maritime, for example, uses AI for our OpenBridge Membership Risk Maps. The map provides OpenBridge users with geo-referenced up-to-date event data on a weekly basis for all important harbour regions in Africa and Asia. The fully automated data sorting, scoring and visualisation of events allows users to monitor security and maritime events as they unfold. Indicators, scoring, geo-referencing, as well as the timeframe setting can be set individually and adjusted at any time. OpenBridge provides users with a simple and easy way to navigate and monitor the latest events.
OpenBridge is a great example of using AI to complete a task that would be very time-consuming for a human. By embracing AI, you allow it to increase efficiency, but it’s always worth noting that AI was created by humans and is therefore controlled by humans.