AI-piloted drone ships wipe out a large proportion of global fish stocks
A third of all fish consumed in the world are already caught illegally. AI and drone technologies are increasingly commonplace. Add to these facts the automation of illegal fishing, and the impact on fish stocks could be devastating—particularly in international waters where oversight is weaker. Countless other areas exist where the same logic might unfold: huge short-term incentives might lead to the use of emerging technologies in ways that trigger irreversible long-term damage.
A rapid collapse of fish stocks could engender cascading failures across marine ecosystems. Communities reliant on fishing for their incomes might struggle to survive, leading to fiscal pressures and/or displacement. A sufficiently large surge in the supply of illegal fish might distort global food markets, leading to disruption in the agriculture and food-production sectors. If illegal drone fishing crossed national maritime boundaries and was perceived to be state-sanctioned, retaliatory measures might lead to diplomatic or military tensions.
Targeted schemes such as genetic markers to track fish throughout the supply chain might limit demand for illegally caught fish. So might better vessel observation. But key to progress in this and similar areas of hybrid technological disruption will be new global governance norms and institutions, particularly those designed to protect the global commons and prevent the destructive deployment of emerging technologies.