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AI and the World Cup

AI and the World Cup

World Cup fever is in full swing. At the time of writing, Morocco is surpassing the odds after an impressive win against Portugal, and after this weekend it is unfortunately not “coming home” for England.

However, it's not just Morocco’s impressive winning streak that has been hitting the headlines, but also the use of technology (and specifically Artificial Intelligence technology) in the World Cup. Technology is being used in several ways - in refereeing (it seemed like the whole world weighed in on this Japan goal), crowd control and results predictions. 

Artificial Intelligence or “AI”, in short, is the science of making machines smart. There will be an algorithm (computer program) created by a programmer which tells the computer what to do and what decision to make based on the output of that algorithm. A particular branch of AI is machine learning, which is where a program will identify patterns, learn from data and make decisions (or reach outputs).

AI is being used in some very interesting ways this World Cup - here are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

  • Crowd monitoring and control - command and control centres in Qatar are relying on thousands of cameras to track people’s movements throughout the games and facial recognition technology will be used to track fans (read more about this here). Algorithms will also be used to try to prevent stampedes in the stadium.
  • Semi-Automated Offside Technology (“SAOT”) - SAOT uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of the stadium to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player, 50 times per second, calculating players’ exact position on the pitch. The 29 collected data points include all limbs and extremities that are relevant for making offside calls (read more here).
  • Predicting the winner – the Alan Turing Institute have used an algorithm to predict the most likely winner and how far England and Wales will progress in the tournament. Read more about their predictions and the data set they used here.

What’s becoming clear is that AI technology is becoming more and more mainstream, and that it has a number of interesting, far-reaching applications.

AI can be a useful tool for employers too – Littler’s most recent European Employer Survey found that of those employers that use AI as part of their HR processes, 69% do so in the recruitment and hiring processes, followed by a third who make use of AI in workforce automation. AI can be used across the whole lifecycle of employment from hiring to firing, for example:

  • When recruiting or screening candidates to sift through CVs to search for key words.
  • During employment to monitor or measure performance e.g. setting productivity targets or to monitor the loss of confidential information.
  • When considering dismissing employees e.g. if there is a large-scale redundancy process and a program can be used to conduct interviews to assess employees as part of the redundancy selection process.

Employers could choose to embrace the efficiencies this technology brings but should be mindful of the risks when implementing it (including discrimination, unfair dismissal risk and the risk of falling foul of data privacy requirements). Read more about this and our tips for employers in our article here.