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DeepMind Wants to Use AI to Transform Soccer

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Andy Robertson playing for Liverpool

AI techniques can analyze both individual players' and teams' behaviors.

Defending Premier League champion Liverpool has joined forces with DeepMind to explore the use of artificial intelligence in the soccer world. Researchers at the two organizations outline potential applications in "Game Plan: What AI Can Do for Football, and What Football Can Do for AI," published in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research.

"The timing is just right," says Karl Tuyls, an AI researcher at DeepMind. In recent years, the amount of data available in soccer has swelled with the use of sensors, GPS trackers, and computer vision algorithms to track the movement of both players and the ball. For soccer teams, AI offers a way to spot patterns that coaches can't.

Liverpool provided DeepMind with data on every Premier League game the club played from 2017 through 2019.

Making predictions is one area where AI could prove useful. The paper demonstrates how to train a model on data about a specific team and lineup to predict how its players will react in a particular situation. "There's lots of data, lots to digest, and it's not necessarily so easy to handle these masses of data," Tuyls says. "We're trying to build assistive technology."

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