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Smart regulation and active dialogue are needed to support the development of Artificial Intelligence

16/01/2019

In addition to being CEO at Cargotec, I have been participating in an Artificial Intelligence initiative initiated by the Finnish Government. I believe that much of the future value creation potential for many industries, especially ours, will be centered around data - producing, making sense of and using it. Supporting this development requires smart decisions and collaboration from governments, authorities and industry players.

Artificial intelligence (AI) already has many industrial and commercial applications that enhance efficiency, safety and eco-efficiency. A few common examples are predictive maintenance for machines or demand planning in airlines. I don’t think there really is a doubt anymore if data and AI have disruptive value creation potential for basically every major industry - it is already happening.

The cargo flow value chain has not been at the forefront of digitalisation, but the same types of challenges - and thereby value creation potential - that drove other industries towards effective use of data do exist. To quote a major terminal operator from Andy Barrons’ blog: “there is so much data coming in from operations, that there is a challenge for us processing it”. The other side of the coin is that currently, there is very little data sharing in our industry as pointed out by Soili Mäkinen.

Without data, there cannot be AI. This is one of the main messages I am trying to communicate in my work with the Finnish government’s AI initiative, as we are trying to promote governmental practices that support the development of data sharing and usage. However, as data doesn’t respect national borders, this is not something that can be done in a national vacuum in any country. International collaboration regarding legislation and practices is needed, both through governmental cooperation but also within industry stakeholders.

Looking at the big picture, one of the major issues I think we need to address is creating international and national legislations that support the mobility of data. A key difference between B2B companies and consumer businesses is the role of personal data, which has a much smaller emphasis in B2B. While setting the standards for B2B data mobility should be done with thoroughly considering security aspects, directly applying current B2C legislation to B2B companies will unnecessarily slow down the development of data-based solutions.

As technology is racing forward at a fast pace, there is also the challenge of being able to create rules for something that is constantly developing. It is hard to predict where AI will be in a few years, not to mention agreeing on regulations that are relevant to that unknown future landscape. We should not be too hasty in the regulation but be agile in learning and adjusting to best support this development, keeping in mind that data-based solutions develop through trial and error, constant learning and new innovations.

I hope that especially stakeholders within the cargo flow and logistics value chain actively take part in the dialogue around data mobility and regulations concerning it. This is something that also greatly shapes the value creation models of our industry in years to come, and collaboration is key in getting our voice heard. The future has potential to be literally smarter, enabling us working better, together.

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