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Soul of the Sea in the Age of the Algorithm

Source: World Ocean Radio/Peter Neill - October 20, 2017 in Radio

Soul of the Sea in the Age of the Algorithm
Photo: Nick Hobgood/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

“Soul of the Sea in the Age of the Algorithm” is a new book by Dr. Gregory Stone and Nishan Degnarain, produced in association with World Ocean Observatory Publications. In this episode of World Ocean Radio, host Peter Neill outlines the book and explains the ways in which it provokes the imagination, reveals the advantages of new technologies, calls for creative and talented young people to apply their knowledge and skill in the ocean world, and provides an optimistic platform for a future sustained by the capacity of the ocean.

Welcome to World Ocean Radio…

I’m Peter Neill, Director of the World Ocean Observatory.

“Soul of the Sea In the Age of the Algorithm” is a provocative new book just published in conjunction with the World Ocean Observatory. Authored by Gregory S. Stone, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist for Oceans at Conservation International, and Nishan Degnarain, co-head of the World Economic Forum Special Initiative on Oceans, Soul of the Sea explores how start-ups and new business models can heal our oceans through technology, innovation, and leadership.

“Our oceans are the single most important natural force on the planet,” the authors declare, “the invisible hand behind the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the moderate weather we enjoy. However, the past three generations of leaders have presided over the decline of our oceans – whether by omission or commission. Their cumulative efforts have not been equal to the forces acting against the oceans. We are precariously close to crossing planetary tipping points, beyond which there may be no turning back, and face the stark choice between a living ocean or a dead one.”

The authors weave together history, ecology, business, and geopolitics, leveraging their experience in science and conservation, economics and policy to address the best examples of revolutionary tools and financial models that could unleash vast new opportunities to sustain the ocean as nurturer and protector of human survival in the 21st century. New technologies and exponential organizations, combined with fresh leadership and values from millennials, they argue, could create radically new solutions that were inconceivable only a few years ago.

At one level, these solutions take advantage of the world of big data that we live in, the proliferation of observation systems, sensors and satellites, the exponential increase in processing power, and the reduction of costs for information recovery and storage. What happens, then, to conventional analyses of this knowledge when interpreted through algorithms, deep learning and artificial intelligence, providing a whole new set of predictive analytical capabilities? The authors ask us to “imagine a digital ocean avatar that would allow us to trial new activities in the ocean in the virtual world , before bringing this into the real world. As we start to become more advanced in new forms of deep sea energy, bio-engineering, dredging, drilling and aquaculture, we may wish to model our plans in an advanced virtual simulator such as this to predict the potential impact, and either make adjustments to minimize impact, or ensure that there are appropriate externality payments to compensate for any damage caused.”

The authors challenge the coming generation of leaders to set priorities, form and preserve coalitions, hold partners to account, ensure development of scalable solutions are at the right place and time, and maintain responsible, sustainable, and successful outcomes in a context of equity and social justice. These leaders “will need experience in leading large organizations in complex industrial and natural ecosystems, maintaining stability in governance, and fostering change.”

It’s time to stop talking about ocean problems and losses, and time to start talking about solutions and initiatives. Soul of the Sea does just that. It provokes our imagination, reveals the advantages that new technologies can bring, calls for creative and talented young people to apply their knowledge and skill in the ocean world, and provides a platform for optimism for a future sustained by the capacity of the sea. Find it at your local independent bookstore or on line, read it, share “Soul of the Sea” with others to build our global community of “citizens of the ocean.”

We will discuss these issues, and more, in future editions of World Ocean Radio.

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World Ocean Radio is brought to you in collaboration with the World Ocean Observatory. The World Ocean Observatory advocates for the ocean through independent, responsible, apolitical science, and is dedicated to advancing public understanding of ocean issues through institutional collaboration and partnerships, pro-active programs, and connection with individual subscribers around the world.

 

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