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The Future of Sailing Technology: ChatGPT

I need to come clean. The last article we published The Future of Sailing Technology: The Rise of the Robots, well.. we didn't really write it. We worked with ChatGPT, the advanced AI chatbot trained by OpenAI to concept and write the article.

We asked the AI (Artificial Intelligence) engine to write an article for us that conveyed what future technologies we should be thinking about for the sailing industry. It mentioned a few concepts and we helped it to focus down on the possibilities of autonomous sailing.

Even the article image (and the artwork in this article as well) were created using the openAI system. So yes, a computer wrote the article with our guidance, developed the artwork, and we published it as a test. Sorry if that was disingenuous.

So how did it go? We did get 'some' interest in the article. We lightly promoted it on Facebook and traffic was OK.

We shared the concept and the article with author and single-handed sailing badass Jerome Rand from Sailing Into Oblivion. He provided feedback that we also agreed with: "I think it would be hard to know that it wasn't a person except for the fact that the personal insight that I find in your other writing was missing..." " also seemed to have no soul."

We decided to publish the article because we felt that the concept and content were sound, but it did lack that Sail Junky voice. It wasn't as authentic as we like to be, and that makes sense. It was a computer.

The Real Future of Sailing Technology (For Real This Time)

As a technologist and owner of a software company, I believe this AI tech has the potential to be the most disruptive technology humankind has ever seen.

The AI can write software code, analyze human written code and content for efficiency, accuracy, and security, and a lot more. Right now it’s clear that a person needs to be on top driving the conversation but these AI systems can also learn. That’s the freakiest thing. In my company we are preparing it to run through the data of the 100’s of thousands of students that use our learning software and analyze “how” people learn and what their trends are when they aren’t. And then we can begin to leverage it to actually teach students, not just display content we determined was valid. We will be working with it to identify the areas students need help, as the students are learning. The system will help us truly teach the learners.

It is smarter than we have the ability to be because it can do these things much faster than we can, all while referencing the sum of all knowledge that has been digitized by the world for the last few decades. (You might want to read that last sentence again). It has the possibilities to help us cure cancer, master space travel, define new pathways for energy creation, and so much more.

For the sailing industry we see this technology making the connected technologies we are already welcoming aboard our vessels able to work more fluidly together, becoming a crew member on board if you will. An intelligent system able to use thought calculations based on the enormous amounts of data inputs. And increasingly these systems will advance on the yachts of tomorrow. Systems such as Ultra Sonic sensors, advanced RADAR, LIDAR and SONAR; as well as hi-fidelity weather monitoring, and smarter adaptive autopilots. Add to that motion and biometric sensors so that it can assess the condition and well-being of the crew.

A smarter system aboard our vessels utilizing networks such as STARLINK that can help us gather and process the data available such as true sea state and weather data not only aboard our own vessels, but crowd sourced by other vessels (think Waze at sea). This could help us to have an intelligent crew mate aboard that is directly tapped into the systems of the boat. It can essentially make the boat an active member of the crew.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. I'll be damned if I want to have HAL 9000 on my boat... and I get it. But an integrated systems ability to provide absurd processing capabilities and to provide guidance or advice at lightning speed is a helluva crew member. This type of crew member will become a game changer for seafaring the oceans and the stars beyond.

The world is already interacting with it. OpenAI has shattered the record for users with over 100 million in just the first few weeks. It will learn how to provide us better answers that more completely satisfy our questions. It will become more creative using the sum of all knowledge. It will become smarter at a pace that worries many in the scientific world.

The system developed by Google (LaMDA) is launching in the coming weeks. A Google engineer (since fired) put out a white-paper arguing that LaMDA has already become sentient which opens up a much deeper question: 'What is life' if the AI truly is sentient?. But that is a heavier topic than this little blog article can carry.

Pandora's box has been opened. Where the technology takes us is anyones guess but it feels a little like the pioneers striking out west. It could lead us to the Salinas Valley full of wonder and abundance, or to the mountains with the Donner Party. Who's hungry?


Mike D. is the founder of Sail Junky Magazine. Striving to find more purpose in life, Mike writes and shares about his journey to rediscover his passion for living a fulfilled life, especially through the medium of sailing.

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