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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Humans are awesome!

In November 2014 I was quoted by “Gotlands Tidningar” (a small Swedish newspaper) saying that I was skeptic to unmanned cargo ships. I am, but I also know that there are a lot of (simple) activities at sea that can be solved with unmanned or even autonomous systems (for example unmanned submarines for civilian or military purposes). An autopilot is a simple thing solving a simple task, the problem arises when the wrong pipe rapture in the middle of the Atlantic because no one was there to see the sign before it was too late. With no one onboard such a small break-down suddenly becomes a big problem. 
Fixing a leaking pipe with a soda can, no
big problem for a human!
 I like to argue that making ships insensitive to small break-downs is much more expensive (in regard to investments, fuel and maintenance) than keeping the crews onboard.
Now, when watching ”People are awesome” videos on Internet I would like to be able to say “I rest my case”. Because, after seeing for example how a person can sail and tack a foiling moth in rough seas it is for me obvious that humans’ ability to react to sensory information and adapt actions is second to none.
The problem is that too many still fail to see this and talk about drones and autonomous systems like it is some kind of solution. At least at sea the tasks are too complex to be defined in advance and implemented into a computer.

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