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Aerial view of cargo ship and cargo containers in harbour (source: iStock by Getty Images)
Aerial view of cargo ship and cargo containers in harbour (source: iStock by Getty Images)

The Thalesians Marine Seminar Series

The Thalesians Marine Seminar Series leads innovation in the shipping industry by inviting thought leaders at the forefront of applications of advanced technology (such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analysis, data science, and big data) to shipping and logistics.

Prof. Dimitrios Dalaklis: Brainstorming: The Impact of AI on Shipping

FULL TITLE: Thalesians Marine Seminar: Brainstorming: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications upon the Shipping Industry

DATE: 12 December, 2023


“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) can be defined as the simulation of human intelligence processes by “machines”, especially computer systems. It is rather common knowledge that AI has already helped numerous organizations to boost their revenues by streamlining the related business procedures, automating repetitive jobs, and improving customer service. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the financial impact of AI applications and pompous terms like “How generative AI will reshape the enterprise?” have recently dominated the public sphere. It is a rather self-explanatory fact that AI has the potential to lead to a massive productivity boom – but one which won’t be shared equally across economies around the world.

When the discussion is shifted to the wider shipping industry, the so-called “Digitalization” phenomenon, which also includes the topic of “Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships” (MASS), provides a disruptive picture of how this industry may be transformed in the near future. The rather simplistic and at most times confusing term “Autonomous Vessels” is often used to describe systems that – to some extent – are able to make decisions by themselves, requiring no human input. Indicative examples of AI applications of immediate interest for shipping include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision (among others). Furthermore, it is necessary to consider that the hardware element of sensors on board contemporary ships has already kind of “exhausted” the room for further improvement; the use of advanced software applications and utilisation of AI tools to improve more the capabilities of the various systems used to support the conduct of navigation seems can be viewed as the best alternative way forward.

This briefing will firstly provide the necessary definitions/clarifications in relation to MASS and AI applications. Then, it will explain the reasons why only advanced AI tools can pave the way towards autonomous systems and eventually to fully unmanned (or, uncrewed) ships. Finally, it will briefly explore what tools are available today to help “humans” and “machines” effectively collaborate together in the same working environment (i.e., image and/or speech recognition). A conclusion standing out is that building, improving and running AI applications requires immense computing power; a Cloud-based architecture can offer that in a flexible and easy “scalable” environment (at relatively low-cost and without huge initial investments). In addition, effective management of “Big Data” and deploying the right analytical tools should be approached as a prerequisite for AI and in turn, AI applications can provide the solution to process unstructured data and derive useful insights from it.


Professor Dimitrios Dalaklis joined the World Maritime University (WMU) in 2014, upon completion of twenty-six (26) years distinguished career with the Hellenic Navy. His expertise revolves around the maritime safety and security interrelated domains. He is an Associate Fellow of the Nautical Institute (NI) and a Member of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME). He is a Hellenic Naval Academy’s graduate; his postgraduate studies took place in the Naval Postgraduate School of the United States (MSc in Information Technology Management, with distinction & MSc in Defence Analysis). He then conducted his PhD research at the University of the Aegean, Department of Shipping, Trade and Transport. He is the author/co-author of many articles – studies in both the Greek and English languages, with a strong research focus on issues related to ship

operations, as well as electronic equipment/systems supporting the safety of navigation. His latest books: “Autonomous Vessels in Maritime Affairs: Law and Governance Implications” and “Smart Ports and Robotic Systems: Navigating the Waves of Techno-Regulation and Governance” are available by Springer International Publishing AG.

More details can be found here:

Keywords: Digitalization, Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Optimizing Navigation Equipment and Systems, Cyber-Security.

Hosted by: Oleksandr (Alex) Bilokon and Paul Bilokon

Oleksandr Bilokon (left)
Oleksandr Bilokon (left) paints the eyes on the lions as part of an opening ceremony in Shanghai.

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