I’m not very good at sport. I am cursed with a body about as athletic as a slug and short sightedness that means balls tend to hit me before I even see them.

So it’s really nice when I get a win in sport. Any win at all. Today’s win is to discover I’m still probably a bit better at ball sprts than this AI which mistook a man’s bald head for a soccer ball. Winning!

As explained by IFL Science, it was during a match featuring a Scottish football team (amazingly named Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC) when the amazing glitch cropped up.

You can only prepare AI for so many things. In fact, when you are selecting all the traffic lights and what not in capture confirmation systems, you’re often helping teach AI. If you’ve ever accidentally clicked on a letter box you thought could be a fire hydrant, you have some idea of what went down.

The poor AI employed by the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Haggis FC was said to use a new camera system with AI ball tracking technology. So it spent a large chunk of the match focussing on the bald head of a linesman instead of a soccer ball. Amazing. Beautiful. I love it.

There’s something sweet about when technology gets something benign wrong. Like a puppy mistaking its reflection for another dog. It can be harrowing when it’s indicative of systematic problems, like Apple Watches not working on dark skin. But a camera focussing on a bald man’s head instead of a ball? Brilliant!

What’s especially good/bad/interesting about this is soccer balls are very specifically designed to be visible. Though perhaps more to humans than AI.

The famous black and white hexagonal pattern on a soccer ball was popularised after its debut in the 1970 World Cup because it was easy to see on TV. Plus the black hexagons are reportedly useful for players learning to put spin on the ball.

I'm looking forward to the next AI and a linesman who purposely shaves his head in soccer ball styling. Please, do it for the fans.

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