Thank you for posting this Peter. It is fascinating to read about the potential applications of AIS, like emergency marking of wrecks. AIS has made a big difference to us in the last year or so. It is very reassuring to "see" a vessel pop up on the chart plotter and to know immediately its speed and heading. It is also very cool to "see" lighthouses with AIS popping up along the coast. It 's very useful in fog and challenging conditions.
What disturbs me is the description of "virtual ATONs" which I presume would exist only as AIS beacons not physical marks. Having had a boat that was hit by lightning, with consequent loss of all electrical and electronic gear, I am not a fan of moving entirely to electronic navigation. I 'm not averse to it, I just like backups. And seeing the physical marker is reassuring that everything is working as expected.
I also wonder how easy it is to hack AIS? I know GPS can be hacked very easily.
Vice Commodore, OCC