How smart ports could look in 2038

Solar-powered drones at Reykjavik Solar-powered drones at the future Port of Reykjavik. Credit: Inform
Industry Database

An imagining of how port technology will operate in 2038 has highlighted the logistical and legal issues with the common use of AI, automation and other currently emerging technologies.

In ‘2038: A Smart Port Story’, Inform’s Dr Eva Savelsberg and Matthew Wittemeier tell how AI became more accepted as it increased in prominence in the 2020’s and 2030’s, but generated questions of accountability.

“Soon, AI was everywhere and with that came AI 2.0 – AI that dynamically adjusted itself via its code, thus adapting to new situations,” they wrote in the story.

“From this, the question of the times arose: ‘Who is the responsible ‘person’ or ‘organization’ when technology goes wrong?’ Perhaps a better question is ‘what is the legal entity responsible?”

Rapid evolution

The story, based on current emerging trends and technologies, takes place in the aftermath of an autonomous vehicle hitting a person at the Port of Reykjavik and how those in the industry go about dealing with it.

It ponders whether hardware manufacturers, software vendors or self-adjusting code should be “responsible” when code adapts itself.

Readers are told that in 2032, ELAIR, the European Legal Force for AI Responsibility, tried to establish a definition in such a way that a machine could be held accountable, but following this no clear definition was struck.

The story references the conflict between pro-tech professionals and those critical of the changes that automation has forced upon the industry, including the backlash from replacing humans with robots.

Insights into how ports might look are delivered through talk of Reykjavik’s solar-powered drones capable of providing lighting, security, vehicle and container tracking; highly flexible and modular leased equipment as technology development speeds up; hugely capable wireless communication technology; and the concept of an AI system that redesigns a terminal layout every 3-6 months depending on the predicted flow of goods through the facility.

The story also talks about Reykjavik’s cybersecurity team with dedicated hackers to test technology weaknesses and the benefits of being able to “remote-in” to cut emissions, but also how expensive technology widened the divide between rich and poor.

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