Ethics in Artificial Intelligence – Navigation to Uncharted Waters



As sailors from the past, who have navigated the intricate waters of the oceans to discover new lands, we have recognized the importance of reliable charts, tools, and ethical practices to ensure safe trips.

In a similar vein, the scientific world, as it always does, during an intense research period, is navigating through the uncharted waters of research, which concerns in this period, the Artificial Intelligence (AI). We all think the AI, as a process which can transform “landscapes” from healthcare to logistics and from human thinking and responding, to machine thinking and automatic responding.

Just as an experienced sailor wouldn’t venture out without knowledge of the stars and their significance in a sea-road or later in time, without a trusted compass and a well-calibrated sextant, we must approach AI with tools of ethical guidelines and principles. The rapid rises of AI technology, akin to the discovery of new trade routes or uncharted waters, create immense potential and challenges.

All of the above mentioned, carry risks and require responsible handling, as well-hidden moral reefs could destroy us, unless we navigate carefully according to a pre-designed and human-safe framework. This article seeks to explore ethical considerations, based to responsible development and deployment of AI.

Bias and Fairness

The shipping industry, like many others industries, is rapidly embracing the power of AI for tasks ranging from predictive maintenance to vessel route optimization. As we sail into this AI-driven future, it’s imperative to address the inherent ethical issues, especially those related to bias and fairness.

AI algorithms are only as unbiased as the data they’re trained on. If historical maritime data reflects certain biases with priorities to routes commonly used by larger nations avoided smaller ports – AI can inadvertently perpetuate these biases against to maritime best practice. Such a roadmap can lead to targeted routes recommendations or suggestions with unfair allocation of resources and misleading information

Moreover, it is necessary to consider the AI processes on Human beings. Automated recruitment tools for seafarers should be properly calibrated in order to avoid favorable treatment part of candidates, sidelining equally qualified individuals due to their sex, nationality, religions and in general social and cultural minorities.

To ensure fairness, it is crucial supervisors of AI to source diverse and representative data, continuously monitor AI outputs, and recalibrate models as necessary. It is necessary stakeholders, from ship-owners and ships management companies to Agents and port authorities, must collaborate to establish standards that promote fairness in AI applications.

As the shipping world has starts to harnesses the winds of AI innovation, any kind of effort with a goal the steering clear of the rocky shores of bias, ensures not only an efficient but also an equitable voyage for all participants.

Transparency and Accountability

In the maritime industry, where navigation, logistics, and safety are paramount, the integration of AI systems offers solutions which can expressed as transformative. Alongside to these benefits arise pressing ethical dilemmas such as transparency and accountability.

Maritime operations should be relied on clear and actionable data. A “black box”, such it is an AI system, where the reasoning of both data and algorithms remains obscured; it is very easy to be disputed. As worldwide maritime clusters and ports have been started to employ AI for predictions, route optimizations, or predictive maintenance, stakeholders require having access to database and algorithm process, in order to understand how decisions are created. It was not be possible to test an application in practice during a voyage, as this could cause accidents and financial losses. Ensuring transparency isn’t just ethical, it’s practical. Transparent AI models foster trust, ensuring that crews, operators, and all kind of regulators can confidently work in alongside with these systems.

In case of an accident or a wrong decision and loss of human life, damages and financial losses, based to AI actions that will be the responsible? What happens when AI, perhaps suggesting an uncharted route or misidentifying a hazard, turns out as an AI wrong action?

The determination and the attribution of responsibilities will become pivotal. Procedures and supervisor bodies should be established with participants that will have the knowledge to decide who is at fault. There are developers who designed the system, the maritime staff who used it, the AI itself and many others. All these demand a well-defined accountability framework. In a domain where mistakes can create monumental implications, from environmental disasters to safety breaches, establishing who or what is answerable is not just ethical—it’s vital for the industry’s future and not only.

Privacy Concerns in the Maritime Industry

The maritime sector, like many other industries, is sailing rapidly towards an AI-driven future. Advanced analytics, predictive maintenance, smart port operations, recruitment process and many other applications rely on the processing of huge amounts of data. While these developments promise efficiency and innovation, they also raise significant privacy concerns.

Imagine a scenario where data from a ship’s crew is used to optimize operations but disclose personal information or patterns that seafarers consider private. Deep learning technologies, although powerful, can inadvertently de-anonymize such data, leading to potential breaches of privacy.

Regarding disclosure of sensitive information, it is not only the seafarer’s personal details. Port operations, cargo details and any kind of customer’s information can also fall victim to privacy breaches. In a sector that thrives on discretion and security, these potential breaches can be catastrophic.

In order to avoid the possibility of shipwrecks and any kind of financial loss and disaster, each one of the shipping industry partners should try to steer clear of such kind of “icebergs”. The obligations of the partners throughout the development and modernization cycle of the shipping industry maximize their responsibility towards the cluster members. New standards should be created and to set strong data governance and privacy policies, ensuring the safe and smooth running of the industry. The standardization of techniques on privacy process and the approved new standards can ensure that individual data remains protected even during an intensive AI processing.

As we “harness the winds” of artificial intelligence to create further growth in the shipping industry and achieve differentiation or even strategic advantages, it is imperative that during the process of data analysis, we will protect the sanctity of individual privacy by ensuring that sensitive information will not be lost on the “altar” of entrepreneurship or even on an AI science research for new application.

Autonomy and Control

The maritime industry, like many others, is on the way of an AI revolution. From autonomous ships navigating the high seas to port management systems optimizing dock schedules, AI promises efficiency and precision saving time and money. However, as these systems gain more autonomy, there is widespread concern, regarding the level of human control to the whole process.

Let’s study not an imagination but a risk assessment on a future scenario: An autonomous vessel faces an unforeseen obstacle. How could we solve an operation or technical problem remotely? Is it possible to trust the autonomous process without human intervention? Can we trust the AI to make ethically sound decisions, especially when human lives or sensitive marine ecosystems are at stake? What will the programming orders be? What will be the ML’s planned instructions regarding the decision it will make regarding the safety and/or salvage of the cargo or vessel and its own autonomous operation and navigation relative to other identifiable by ML “obstacles” such as other passing ships or land areas or even port facilities?

The key lies in a balanced approach. While the allure of fully autonomous operations is a great challenge and a strong driver of investment in it, ethical considerations require constant human supervising. A “human-in-the-loop” system, where professional seafarers would be able to intervene and guide AI decisions, would be a safe process to achieve social acceptance of the venture. Such a process could reassure humans’ societies that even as machines handle the bulk or the whole of operations, any of autonomous decisions will never diverge from the framework that defines common human morality.

As we sail into this AI-driven future, the shipping industry should be built a high level of trust for new technologies, such as autonomous vessels, with standards that can be compared with the time-tested judgment and ethics of seafarers and shipping professionals.

Long term results

As the shipping industry looks ahead to the horizon, the possibilities and benefits of digital transformation through the capabilities offered by AI, are like the light of a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean. It’s the light that makes you feel confident about your navigation route. From optimizing vessel routes to predictive maintenance, AI’s potential as well as its challenges, looks like to be vast and for someone of shipping stakeholders an unbearable and difficult managed burden.

The long-term results coming out from AI development will include systems and processes that use superintelligence – machines that will surpass human cognitive abilities. Although these achievements may seem far away, however, the progress of recent years has shown us that nothing is too far away. This makes us to be awakening our attention and to press regulatory authorities and state legislatures for immediately actions. The boundaries, within which AI applications will be designed, built, installed and operated, should be clearly defined.

In case that science leaves super intelligent AI uncontrolled and designers of the AI architecture do not include strong and insurmountable boundaries, within which AI applications and achievements could be operated and create knowledge, capabilities and even redesign the code by which they operate, it is certain that unknown paths will be created, paths that we should never have in our lives, posing dangers that we may not even understand today.

For our maritime sector, the implications will be profound. Imagine autonomous vessels making decisions that defy shipping laws or ethical norms, or AI-driven port systems that operate without transparency or accountability. It is a scenario that could lead the shipping industry, if not to destruction, sure to the regression with all that this may entail.

To ensure our industry remains both innovative and safe, we must anchor our AI endeavors in robust ethical frameworks and new standards. This means establishing of new regulations and strict safety protocols, continuously updating research guidelines, and fostering international collaborations. As we navigate to these uncharted waters, a collective commitment to ethics will be our compass, guiding us towards a future where AI enhances maritime operations without compromising our core values.


The global shipping industry is facing in front of a renaissance thanks to the existence of artificial intelligence. It is an important moment for her future full of opportunities as well as challenges. As more and more organizations and companies incorporate artificial intelligence into their current operations, the level of ethics under which it should operate is emerging as a top event. It is an event more important than the technological applications and achievements of AI itself. This fact is not only about creating a competitive advantage or increasing efficiency and business profitability. It’s about ensuring that “digital helmsmen” and ships’ autonomous technology act in accordance with shipping traditions and values. As a maritime industry, we must support and invest in AI initiatives in the framework that defines our ethics and shipping tradition. It is a journey into the future that requires our collective vigilance and commitment, ensuring that as we navigate towards to discover new worlds in the future of artificial intelligence, our core ethics will remain as steadfast as there is in the heaven the North Star, a star that helped sailors chart their lives and ocean routes through the centuries.

Dr. Truth