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Maritime’s “Monolith Moment”- The Dawn of a New Era

Maritime’s “Monolith Moment”- The Dawn of a New Era 

How many of you have watched 2001: A Space Odyssey in the past couple of years? If you have, you will see how closely the movie reflects where we are in shipping today. In the movie, a black monolith appears at pivotal times communicating (or initiating) profound change: the ability for man to stand up straight, eat meat, and use bones as weapons; a communication from farther into the universe when encountered on the moon causing man to reach farther to find its source.

There are many examples supporting the notion that now is maritime’s “Monolith Moment”. As we approach the next decade, we are looking at the reduction of the global Sulphur cap from 3.5% to .5%. In preparation for a release in 2023, maritime needs to develop a strategy for reducing carbon emissions to 40% by 2030 and an aspirational 70% by 2050 (with a commitment of 50%). In 2020 we will see the dawn of a fully automated/unmanned loading and transit operation in Norway with the launch of the Yara Birkland. Without a doubt, we will see a surge in the use of artificial intelligence and digitalization as we look to become more and more efficient—and hopefully realizing some cost savings. And we can hope that the IMO’s 2019 World Maritime Day theme of “Empowering Women” will be realized in the coming decade.

With change comes risk. As we come to rely increasingly on machines we need to retain our oversight. No one watching 2001: A Space Odyssey will forget how HAL, the computer “incapable of error”, attempted to supersede Dr. Dave Bowman and his colleagues and take over the mission. With our transition today, we need to be vigilant against error, and shore up vulnerabilities. Cyber security needs to be a countervailing tool as we advance in digitalization. Critical awareness needs to be present in automation. We cannot become complacent.

If you haven’t watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, I urge you to do so before 2020: A SHIPPING Odyssey. See you in October!!!

Keep optimizing,


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