My following article below was originally published by SERIOUS WONDER:
I can’t say that I’m much of a sports fan. At best, I’m into extreme sports, but anything like football tends to come off as nothing more than a boring way of achieving brain damage. However, I won’t ignore the fact that sports, especially football, tends to be a very popular activity for most people throughout the world. With that we must understand how sports will change with the exponential growth of technology.
This year we were given a very unique sneak peek into how technology is changing the very way we look at sports. From what I gathered, this year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks caused quite a stir with the Patriots’ shocking victory in the very last quarter, with a score of 28-24. To make this event all the more remarkable, it would appear that the A.I. mechanics of the EA Sports Madden 15 video game had not only predicted that the Patriots would come out victorious in the Super Bowl, but subsequently predicted the score and who’d make the winning touchdown!
This is quite impressive, given the complexities of predicting human behavior and actions. However, I’m sure that anyone who actually keeps up with the Madden NFL Super Bowl predictions will tell you that they’re not always correct. In fact, last year’s prediction claimed the Denver Broncos would come out victorious in the 2014 Super Bowl, and yet the Seattle Seahawks proved them wrong. In the A.I. simulation’s defense, though, out of the 11 Super Bowls it made predictions on, 9 of them have proven to be correct – an 81% prediction rate of success!
Which then raises the question: is this A.I. simulation merely lucky in its predictions or is there something more to it that allows it to make very efficient estimations in how players perform in mainstream sports? According to American statistician Nate Silver, and author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t:
“Many predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. We are wired to detect a signal, and we mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the prediction paradox: the more humility we have about our ability to make predictions – and the more we are willing to learn from our mistakes – the more we can turn information into knowledge and data into foresight.” – Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t
In other words, the vast majority of people, including expert statisticians, tend to have a high rate of failure in their predictions because of the fact that they, more often than not, rely on their emotional bias for any given subject. For Nate Silver – who runs his blog FiveThirtyEight for ESPN, no less – his predictions have a high success rate in both political and sports foresight because he doesn’t allow his emotional bias to determine the statistical facts at hand. He weighs in all the available data, all while including the uncertainties, and accurately comes out on top.
With that understanding, it would then make sense why an A.I. simulation would achieve an 81% success rate in predicting Super Bowl winnings, scores, and the most likely player to make said scores. For an A.I. simulation, there are no emotional biases in the way of making a prediction. Whereas for humans, us meat bags tend to predict Super Bowl winnings based on our biased preference for one team or the other. I’ve been to a football game before and all I can say is that emotions are very high!
The future of sports is another prediction that will either become everything we hoped for and more or will go the way contrary to our expectations. For us, here at Serious Wonder, we recognize our own bias – that is, one with a techno-optimist bent. However, our techno-optimist predictions of the future are more than mere wishful thinking, but are goals in which we set ourselves to achieve through action.
Keeping that in mind, I believe the future of sports will largely integrate the movers and shakers of 21st century society – robotics and artificial intelligence. Subgroups, such as cyborgs, will also be included, creating what can only be conceived as something of a Transhuman Olympics. Here the greatest thinkers (data processors) will prevail, whether it be cybernetically enhanced human cyborgs or artificially intelligent robots. It will be as if we are witnessing a friendly battle between Gods and Goddesses!