Sporting Adventures In Artificial Intelligence

Since I need something lighthearted as the rule of law finally implodes between Il Trumpe’s lawlessness and House Democrats’ gormlessness, let’s talk about artificial intelligence (AI) and sports. According to the Washington Post, a research team had an algorithm develop a new sport, which it decided would be called Speedgate, and is a blend of croquet, rugby, soccer and Ultimate Frisbee. The way it came up with the rules is… interesting:

The team fed information on about 400 sports into a neural network —— a set of algorithms designed to find underlying relationships by mimicking how the human brain processes information —— and waited for AI to generate new concepts and rules. The team’s initial guidelines offered few instructions: Developers wanted to create a sport that was easy to learn, accessible to different types of athletes and could be played outdoors or on a hard court in a wheelchair. Team members whittled the list down to three potential ideas that they tested in person, eventually including more specific rules to make Speedgate playable.

Leaving aside what neural networks actually model, that’s pretty funny. But what’s hilarious are the rejected ideas:

  1. An exploding Frisbee relay where racers run on a track while disks that explode on impact are thrown at them.
  2. A hot-air-balloon-based sport where players balance on a line tethered between aircraft and pass balls back and forth.
  3. “Pommel horse sawing.” Two people sit on pommel horses on opposite sides of a giant log and rock back and forth with a saw.
  4. An underwater relay race.
  5. A form of rugby with obstacles that require gymnastic-style maneuvers to conquer (half parkour, half football).

Instead of trading jerseys like soccer players do at the end of a match, a long-standing tradition rooted in mutual respect, AI suggested a new tradition for Speedgate: each team cutting off the tops of the field’s poles and exchanging them before the game, not after.

Exploding frisbees seem kinda fun actually.

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1 Response to Sporting Adventures In Artificial Intelligence

  1. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    Ultimate Frisbee

    There is no such thing. The correct name of the sport is simply Ultimate. Frisbee is a registered trademark of the Wham-O corporation.

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