English Football Embraces Ai
In an effort to promote STEM studies amongst young people, Wingate & Finchley FC, an English football (soccer) team, has partnered with The Big Bang Fair (a UK celebration of young people in STEM) to make an AI their head coach. This coach, developed by AI experts at GreenShoot Labs, is programmed to determine for a team the best formation and style of play against any given opponent. Utilizing a reasoning engine, which attempts to mimic the decision-making process of experts, this AI will gradually learn and continuously improve as it is fed more and more data. In addition to this machine learning attribute, which is characteristic of nearly any AI system, the AI coach also features a neural engine to facilitate speech processing and interaction with the players and coaching team.
Yet professional soccer coaches take into account much more than simply formation and style of play when drawing up tactics to win a game. Years of experience, of trial and error, have taught these coaches that many other factors affect any team’s performance on the pitch. Accordingly, an AI coach should consider these same factors in its decision-making processes. If the goal is to win, then the coach, whether AI or human, should consider as many facets of a team’s performance as possible to suggest the most viable and effective approach. This is why this AI coach takes data measuring fatigue and motivation, as well as fitness levels, types of players, team chemistry, and areas of strength and weakness on the pitch to make the most informed decisions possible.
Technology has become an indispensable tool in sports, and its uses are growing more and more numerous. The 2018 FIFA World Cup marked the introduction of real-time information and analytics in soccer, when FIFA instituted a rule change allowing each team to bring two computer tablets to the games. These tablets provided both coaching and analysis to teams with new and unprecedented methods of real-time data collection, decision assessment, and reactive prediction. Coaches can quickly extract and organize data, and identify trends in order to predict the opposing team’s next moves. But this rule change is indicative of a much larger movement - technology, and more specifically big data, is becoming the future of professional sports.
Written by Paul Luu Van Lang, Edited by Alexander Fleiss & Matthew Durborow