For the first time, artificial intelligence is watching Wimbledon

Tennis is a game of tradition, best typified by Wimbledon. However, technology is taking over control of the British Open, as an AI is now independently editing the highlights. Scandal.



Tennis, at first glance, is a simple, almost masochistic pursuit. Repeatedly lob the ball over the fence with your hitting stick in the hot sun, and if it goes awry, yell at the bespeckled fellow in the deckchair.

Our own Disney tennis princess might be out of Wimbledon contention, but there’s still much to analyse beyond the contours of your strawberries and cream.

We’re all familiar with Hawk-Eye, the automated ball-flight predictor, one has been also used to predict LBW decisions in cricket, and the assassination of a president during the Warren Commission.

The technology adds another shade of drama to proceedings, and it also continues the war between players and umpires, with technology walking hand-in-hand with schadenfreude.



However, there is something new in the rusted-on locked gate of Wimbledon’s traditions, as the video highlight packages in this tournament will be spliced together by AI. Watson, the grand old man of computer systems bagged the job. Which, if you think about it, is quite fitting. An aged name in tech putting forward an equally antiquated system is absolutely the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club’s aesthetic.

IBM has enlisted the help of its artificial intelligence (AI) system, Watson, to develop video highlights (Image: Shivali Best)

Shade aside, Watson has trained to identify pivotal moments in matches, purportedly by analysing sounds and images. According to the information supplied, Watson can recognise the moment the ball is struck, thereby prompting cleaner, faster edits. Of course, this means the professional video editor is on the way out, but hey, they’ve had a good run, and the machines do most of the work anyone. Love, after all, means nothing in tennis.

Game, set and match, Watson.



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