18 Sept 2019 - The ocean is in a dire crisis that puts the entirety of humanity at risk. The gravity of its issues range from climate change to plastics pollution to overfishing, all of which are overwhelming issues to tackle individually, and seemingly insurmountable when looked at together.
Scientists have noted that even if we were to halt all of our fossil fuel activity today, we are still on track to lose 90% of the ocean’s corals by 2050. Coral is the ocean’s life system and without it, we will soon also have an ocean without life.
In spite of the terrible news, there are some glimmers of light and hope spots that we can point to, especially in the areas of AI for the benefit of the ocean. This will be the first in a series of articles that puts a spotlight on the top innovators and innovations that are using the power of technology, and specifically AI to restore and regenerate our precious oceans.
Ultimately, AI is about leveraging data in the most efficient and unique ways to uncover new insights, innovations, and ways to work. When it comes to ocean data, the information is often overwhelming, unavailable and almost always fragmented. Making sense of data is the key to creating solutions for our oceans and acting on them.
Limited Knowledge is Hindering Us
Many of the issues facing our ocean today originate with us not knowing that much about it, in spite of it making up over three-quarters of our planet. It’s interesting to note that we know much more about the topography of Mars and the Moon than our own ocean. Because life underwater isn’t always visible, it has largely stayed out of sight and out of our cultural mindshare. Only very recently has public awareness bubbled up about the precarious state of our oceans. It’s also recent that the acceleration of its degradation has become so visible that it is impossible to ignore. But what can be done about the precarious state of our oceans?
I spoke with several AI startups that are doing their part to enable solutions for the oceans. Sinay is aggregating ocean data and applying machine learning to empower positive ocean action, Data 360 is using data to identify cultural knowledge gaps and opportunities and Hadal is mapping the ocean floor to expand our knowledge of ocean topography (Bathymetry).
Bridging the Gap in Maritime Expertise and Data
There are many initiatives to gather data about the oceans, however certain datasets are difficult to gain access to, and the sheer volume of information is massive. Making sense of this data requires access to computational resources and expertise in the fields of oceanography, and physics; when you add machine learning to the equation, it adds up to a rare combination of skill sets in not necessarily available in today’s corporate maritime landscape.
Sinay is looking to bridge the gap in maritime expertise and data. Their platform aggregates data from over 6,000 sources ranging from iOT sensor data that measure water quality, wave and weather data, shipping vessel locations, and ocean acoustic. They then apply machine learning algorithms to correlate information for real-time decision making, insight into operational efficiencies, and reductions in cost as well as environmental harm.