Introducing Bedrock Ocean Exploration
A public benefit corporation developing technology to make sure humans get full-ocean exploration right. We’re vowing to explore and map the entirety of Earth’s oceans.
It is a scientific, environmental, and humanitarian imperative that we map, image, and classify our Oceans.
We often pontificate about humanity traveling to space and becoming a multi-planetary species. Humans do need another option if we are to survive beyond the existence of Earth.
Yet, when we talk about this concept, we often exclude the fact that the vast majority of humans will inevitably remain on Earth for the next several hundred years. That means we have a necessity as a species to understand how we are going to shift the environment we currently live within, how we will supply people with the materials and food to further sustain a growing population, and continue to uncover secrets we have yet to learn to further advance and give our Earth-originating species the best chance of multi-centennial survival.
This is — and always should be — something we maintain as a top human priority.
Why explore the ocean?
We have yet to map 85% of Earth’s oceans to modern high-resolution standards. That means we do not know what’s there. We do not understand how it works. We cannot change something we know nothing about.
If New York City was on the bottom of the ocean, we’d likely have no idea it was there. We seek to understand the vast space that Earth spins within foregoing a much more approachable and impactful frontier right here: our oceans. The only way we’re going to do this is by building a new company that develops the right technology to explore this frontier. When trying to predict the companies that will define the next decade, I find it difficult to see a world where multi-faceted ocean intelligence is not an ultra-critical and decade-defining asset.
Why will humans need this?
The ocean is our largest energy sink. It is the lungs of our planet. We will need to work with the ocean to address the surmounting environmental shifts. When we create an accurate energy model of the ocean (which relies on understanding the geometry of the seafloor), we’ll be able to better predict and understand the weather patterns that are worsening in severity. This is particularly true for hurricanes, tsunamis, and other disastrous weather anomalies we currently have little-to-no capability of accurately predicting.
About 40% of the world’s population lives within 100km of coastline, and that percentage is going up. Our species population will reach 8.6 billion people by 2030, 9.8 billion by 2050, and 11.2 billion by 2100. Currently, 3 billion people (38% of the current world population) rely on seafood as their primary source of protein.
How will we continue feeding these people?
Young people ages 10–24 account for ~1.8 billion of the total 7.8 billion people on Earth now. 90% of them live in developing countries and we are quickly seeing them advance into the industrialized world. Africa, India, China, Latin America will require access to technology products at volumes we’ve never seen before. These products require specialized minerals. Yet, at this point in history, many of the obvious land-based mineral reserves have been exhausted. So, we can dig deeper, drastically increasing the human risk, pollution, and cost to extract these minerals. Or we can turn to the ocean bedrock that makes up 71% of the surface area of the planet. The need for more raw minerals is being driven by the consumers of the world. Not the knowledge that the reserves exist.
How will we find and monitor these mineral deposits responsibly?
By 2100 — essentially our lifetime — we will need to remove 100 Gigatons of CO² out of the air. Where are we going to put it all? Where will we store all that liquid Carbon Dioxide? The leading best (worst case) option is the ocean. Ironically, the same companies that made trillions pulling carbon out of the Earth will be the ones making trillions trying to put it back in because we need them to.
How will we prevent more irrevocable damage to our ocean environments?
All of these answers are reliant and contingent on Earth’s oceans and our understanding of them. And yet, humanity still dreams of space, ignoring the obvious unknown abyss where any large discovery has immediate financial and humanitarian benefit and reward.
The next decade for Bedrock.
Exploration, Discovery, & Surveying — We’re working to make the collection of high-quality, high-resolution subsea and seafloor data quicker and cheaper. This is critical for accelerating the rate we can explore the ocean.
Cloud Platform — Once we have collected comprehensive data on an area, we intend to make it accessible to the rest of the world for a fraction of the cost.
Monitoring— We intend to enable subsea monitoring which was never before possible to keep track of our highest-risk activities.
All this will require a new type of subsea survey system. One built from the ground up to scale across the oceans with minimal to no human intervention. This new infrastructure is necessary to enable the largest Earth exploration mission in human history.
We feel our governments have failed to address an ever so obvious information gap in our attempt to understand this planet. And while we don’t blame them for not taking action — we refuse to sit back and wait any longer. We’re being forced to make this a private organization. It must be financially sustainable without reliance on military secrecy or wavering governmental support and bureaucratic intention — because humanity requires this to survive over the next centennial. We feel compelled to address and privatize this endeavor. And while this requires us to operate with a capitalistic approach, we believe the societal imperative is paramount to the success of the initiative.
That is why we have incorporated as a new Public-Benefit Corporation (PBC or a B-Corp) called Bedrock Ocean Exploration, PBC. Bedrock for short. This means any representatives of the company — directors, and executives, are required by law to consider more than just the need to return money to shareholders. We are also required to provide a clearly defined public benefit throughout the life of the corporation. We intend to make a subset (but still geographically complete) version of the data we collect open and freely accessible to the world.
This is actually written in our Corporation Charter as follows:
The specific public benefit that the Corporation will promote is to gather bathymetric mapping data of the ocean floor, providing data that allows for improved prediction of environmental shifts, and supporting and encouraging better physical, geological, and biological research of the world’s oceans, including but not limited to a freely available medium resolution map of the ocean floor.
We believe what we’re doing is something that can, and will change the course of humanity on Earth. And we’re so serious about seeing this through, that we’ve written our commitment to this into the legal birth and foundation of the company. A medium-resolution map would give us a sense of generally what could be there. We believe this should be provided to all humanity, to all of science. We also suspect this will increase the demand for higher resolution data.
Don’t misunderstand what we’re saying — we believe there is an exceedingly large financial benefit to doing this — likely much larger than we can currently predict with the very limited amount of information we now have on our Oceans. The business opportunities we’re excited about involve seafloor mining intel & monitoring, increasing the efficiency of oil & gas prospecting, hydrographic surveying, subsea cable & pipeline surveying, offshore energy, explosives mapping (UXO) — there’s a ton of bombs at the bottom of the ocean from WWII, fisheries & habitat monitoring, science & oceanography, government & military intelligence, subsea engineering project support, marine search & rescue (SAR), and marine archeology. Learn more here.
The exciting part of the business is the massive inefficiency that exists in the way we collect this data now, both in shallow & deep water subsea hydrographic and geophysical surveying. You need a ship. You have to crew it. You’re often spending millions of dollars before you’ve even begun to collect the information you’re really looking to get.
Ultimately, we see this as a technology problem. Humans were never meant to survive out at sea. Humans don’t scale. The systems humans have built to support ocean mapping, exploration, and seafloor data collection activities to-date are either too expensive, too limited by the physical breadth of information they can collect, or simply lack modern robotic autonomy to operate on their own at sea. Furthermore, there are few distributed software systems that have been built to make sense of even the fractional information we’ve already collected (~15% of the Ocean).
So there is an incredible efficiency gain opportunity. It’s the exact sort of problem that silicon valley has been building infrastructure and talent to be able to tackle, and we’re convinced the time to do this is now.
While we’d love to go into how we’re planning on carrying this out, we’re still holding the operational details close. We think the ramifications of building this technology are pretty incredible and we’re excited to share them when we’re ready.
There ARE people, organizations, and governments that are trying to mobilize real solutions. We are fully supportive of any person, organization, corporation, government, NGO, or non-profit that is trying to move the needle here in any way. Hopefully, Bedrock can be a small example of this now, and a sizable example of this in the future. Earth’s story will be told by data collected from many different systems, all with their own unique ability to tell a certain part of Earth’s narrative.
While it’s important for humanity to have a plan-B (Mars + beyond), we think it’s even more important to try to make our plan-A work, indefinitely. If we are left only to Mars, the shift will come with incalculable losses. We know the ocean is a critical component of us staying here on Earth. Without understanding the true forces behind it we cannot attempt to change, adjust, and predict what we must do to keep plan-A, well… plan-A.
We hope we can instill hope in others.
The Earth is not doomed.
Humans are not doomed.
We’re going to fix this place.
As the magnitude of these problems grows, the financial reward for being a part of the solutions grows as well.
Hopefully, this motivates more and more people to try to tackle these bold issues. Hopefully, this motivates governments to partner with those who are executing well on these solutions. Hopefully, it accelerates the future development of these solutions and attracts talent that matches the magnitude of influence these solutions will inevitably have on the direction humanity takes.
While attempting to explore the last large frontier on this planet, we intend to build a very large business to sustain it throughout time.
We’re proud to introduce Bedrock Ocean Exploration, PBC. and we’re strapping in for one hell of a ride.
To the depths & beyond — Anthony, 01/10/2020
We’re looking for the daring. The talented and humble. The considerate and confident. The decade-defining explorers of our time. We’re currently hiring aggressively — you can find open roles here.