Recent announcements regarding a now famous AI app called ChatGPT, soon to be made available for access by anyone, created huge publicity yet confusion. Personally, I couldn’t agree more that this is big news, even though little of the regular worldwide media has picked up on the real disruption caused by the pronouncement. The full impact of this upcoming access is going to be darned significant.
But, what about shipping? Is there any room for it to be applied?
Senior management in the shipping industry is under increasing and relentless pressure. Major concerns on cost reduction such as fuel consumption and a growing demand for regulatory compliance on environmental footprint reduction, are driving the industry to urgently centralise control of their procedures.
They constantly try to use more digital tools; more complex procedures and calculations must be processed daily. They recruit highly educated personnel to apply recent technologies but at the end of the day, instead of simplifying workflows, they end up with a mess of experts, fragmented systems, and unstructured procedures.
The only efficient way for the skilled teams onshore to perform daily activities is to be fed with timely and reliable information coming either from the vessels, onshore databases, or third-party providers.
The biggest challenge is the overabundance of unstructured huge data archives and the inability to quickly and efficiently search any available data source and dig out the relevant and hopefully most reliable data. And then, to conclude some actionable information. This, in IT terminology, would be defined as digital technology to parse unstructured data and create tables from long-form text by specifying a structure. This is the big revolution brought to the table by ChatGPT made by the organisation OpenAI. And this is exactly what can disrupt our cautious, conservative, hesitant, skeptical industry. The above application is already available by API (Application Programming Interface) for use within a specific shipping company’s archives and harum-scarum databases.
In the past, shipping had a delay in adopting modern technologies. Now, more than ever, we have the proper solid ground to build value-adding applications, addressing the specific requirements of maritime providing actual solutions to all the stakeholders apart from just a data visualisation.
The employment of advanced technologies and techniques is a necessity to enable data-driven decision-making, better predictions and faster diagnostics, reducing the risk of failures, accidents and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.
Natural language processing, namely the convenience of asking simple or even complicated questions and getting accurate answers, will change the mindset to embrace modern technology to enhance operations.
The intelligence to offer the right information to the right person, in the right way at the right time in order to estimate, understand and reduce any additional costs concerning the vessels’ operation and management, is the game changer. Virtual employees-assistants can interact with human users exchanging text messages in plain English, restlessly watching, occasionally but timely alerting and promptly answering questions and responding to requests. Additionally, the learning curve of such systems is very steep and interfaces will ultimately be user-friendly. The end users feel confident that the system will support and augment them in their working tasks without increasing their obligations or complicating procedures. This functionality becomes clearly a skyrocketing leap for the industry for yet another reason. English language is the only standard communication language in shipping, so translations and grammar corrections are not a concern.