AI-Ready Already

Right about now, everyone’s biggest AI nightmare is returning to the big screen. But The Terminator won’t be hitting the streets any time soon. The technology required for such general artificial intelligence is probably decades away.

The narrow variety – the kind that recommends what to watch next, or plays a mean game of chess – has been around for a while, reshaping industries and enabling organizations to gain a competitive edge.

Saying hi to maritime AI

Of more relevance to our readers, of course, is the impact AI is having on the maritime industry. As luck would have it, a major new report just out gives us a bit of a steer on how the maritime world is navigating this challenge, and turning it into an opportunity.

According to the Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2019, Big Data and AI are among the technologies that are most likely to affect the industry over the next 10 years – more than autonomy and decarbonization, and only just behind new environmental regulations, geopolitical tensions and cyber attacks.


When asked about the impact these issues will have on the maritime industry over the next decade, respondents placed AI and big data sixth. Given that AI hasn’t just fallen from the sky, you’d expect the industry to have its preparations well in place. Yet that hasn’t happened: respondents gave this metric a mediocre 2.22 (out of a maximum readiness of 4).

Maritime AI in action

What does all this mean in practice? As with any industry, different organizations move at different paces. Their priorities, budgets and technical expertise may differ; they may have different stakeholders to appease. But it is encouraging that very few players are taking the Admiral Nelson approach to AI, and turning a blind eye.

As Andreas Berger, CEO of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, says in the report, AI and big data “ will lead to unprecedented performance improvements and efficiency gains. It will also push novel and fully integrated data-driven shipping, as well as data-driven financial and insurance services. In this context, we need to work together to establish data lakes and data protection standards because digital partnerships will help us monetise the benefits of digitisation.”

We couldn’t agree more. As we wrote in May, in the past few years, more information has been collected about the oceans than in the entirety of human history that came before. This explosion of data sources – everything from weather systems, ship movements and supply chains to Augmented Reality navigation for very large crude carriers (VLCCs) – has the potential to bring new perspectives and insights to light, fundamentally changing the way we understand opportunities and threats. It will improve safety, security and sustainability, reducing the likelihood of environmental disasters and facilitating new types of trade.

The maritime ecosystem doesn’t evolve in months or years, but over decades. Investment in Big Data and AI is about today being ready for the future.

Elliott Gotkine is Windward’s Director of Communications