Expert Predicts AI Takeover in Sports Refereeing
In a bold projection, a leading expert in the field of sports analytics has suggested that artificial intelligence (AI) could replace human referees in sports within the next three decades. While AI technology has already made significant inroads in officiating, such as with VAR (Video Assistant Referee) and goalline technology, the expert believes that its role is poised to expand even further.
The Evolving Role of AI in Officiating
With the availability of high-quality data increasing, the potential for AI to officiate matches without human intervention becomes increasingly viable. Aldo Comi, the Chief Executive of Soccerment, a prominent global football analytics provider, shared his insights on this matter. He highlighted the growing effectiveness of computer vision technology and the proliferation of cameras on the field as key factors in this development.
Comi stated, “In the coming years, computer vision will become increasingly efficient, and there will be more cameras installed on the field. AI algorithms will be able to make refereeing choices based on what they observe on the field thanks to an exponential increase in the amount of data that is tagged and the caliber of the models that are trained using that data. As a result, there may come a time when a referee is completely unnecessary.”
Transitioning from Human to AI Officiating
Comi outlined a potential transitional phase in the evolution of sports refereeing. He suggested that, before the complete replacement of referees by AI, we might witness the elimination of linesmen, with the remaining human referee being guided by a virtual assistant to make more informed decisions.
He acknowledged the possibility of mixed feelings about this impending change, stating, “I am not saying this is positive; I’m just saying it is likely to happen.”
Beyond Officiating: AI’s Influence in Football
The influence of AI and machine learning in football is not confined to officiating. Data analytics have already played a pivotal role in enabling clubs like Brighton and Brentford to disrupt the established Premier League hierarchy by identifying and developing high-quality signings, leading to substantial profits.
However, the integration of data is expected to evolve further. Managers may soon employ virtual coaches powered by AI to assist with team selection and tactics. Comi explained, “In the upcoming years, AI may start to inspire fresh perspectives on the game. You may train models to understand what will happen in the future better by having AI examine the data, for instance, by understanding the odds of what will happen in the next five or ten minutes.”
The Future of AI in Sports
As the application of AI in sports continues to expand, there will likely be a learning curve in trusting AI decision-making. Comi emphasized that AI would not replace professionals but serve as high-quality support. Clubs that embrace this technology are expected to outperform those that do not.
He concluded, “It will take some time to build trust, but there are enough success stories to suggest that you can do better than others. With Brentford and Brighton, we’ve observed it. Data analytics are not as crucial as the advantage that AI may provide.”
As the world of sports evolves, the influence of AI is becoming increasingly evident, potentially reshaping the way we play, watch, and manage our favorite games.