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DeepMind Wants to Use AI to Transform Soccer

DeepMind Wants to Use AI to Transform Soccer

In March 1950, an RAF wing commander and trained accountant named Charles Reep turned his eye for numbers to soccer. Reep, who had become interested in the sport in the 1930s and was fascinated by Herbert Chapman’s pioneering Arsenal team, had returned from the Second World War to find that the tactical revolution he’d witnessed before had stalled.

Finally, at half-time during a drab Division Three game between Swindon Town and Bristol City, during which he watched countless attacks amount to nothing, Reep’s patience ran out. He grabbed a notebook and a pencil and began furiously jotting down what happened on the pitch: He started counting the number of passes and shots in one of the first systematic attempts to use data to analyze soccer.

Seven decades later, the data revolution has reached the grassroots—fans are fluent in xG and net spend, and the top teams pluck statistics PhD students straight from university in the search for an edge. Now, defending Premier League champion Liverpool has joined forces with DeepMind to explore the use of artificial intelligence in the soccer world. A paper by researchers at the two organizations, published today by the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, outlines some of the potential applications.

“The timing is just right,” says Karl Tuyls, an AI researcher at DeepMind and one of the lead authors on the paper. DeepMind’s collaboration at Liverpool arose from his previous role at the city’s university. (DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis is also a lifelong Liverpool fan and was an adviser on the research.) The two groups got together to discuss where AI might be able to help soccer players and coaches. Liverpool also provided DeepMind with data on every Premier League game the club played from 2017 through 2019. 

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; for DeepMind researchers, soccer offers a constrained but challenging environment for them to road test their algorithms. “A game like [soccer] is super interesting, because there are a lot of agents present, there’s competition and collaborative aspects,” says Tuyls. Unlike chess, or Go, soccer has inherent uncertainty built into it, because it’s played in the real world.

That doesn’t mean you can’t make predictions, though—and that’s one area where AI could prove particularly useful. The paper demonstrates how you can train a model on data about a specific team and lineup to predict how its players will react in a particular situation: If you knock a long ball into the right-hand channel against Manchester City, for example, Kyle Walker will run in a particular direction, while John Stones may do something else.

This is known as “ghosting”—because the alternative trajectories are overlaid on what actually happened, like in a video game—and has a range of different applications. It could be used, for example, to predict the implications of a tactical change or how an opponent might play if a key player goes off injured. These are things that coaches would likely notice themselves, and Tuyls stresses that the aim isn’t to design tools to replace them. “There’s lots of data, lots to digest, and it’s not necessarily so easy to handle these masses of data,” he says. “We’re trying to build assistive technology.”

As part of the paper, the researchers also conducted analysis on more than 12,000 penalty kicks taken across Europe in the last few seasons—categorizing players into clusters based on their style of play, and then using that information to make predictions about where they were most likely to hit a penalty and whether they were likely to score. Strikers were, for instance, more likely to aim for the bottom-left corner than midfielders—who took a more balanced approach, and the data demonstrated that the optimal strategy for penalty takers was, perhaps unsurprisingly, to kick to their strongest side.

Author: Amit Katwala, WIRED UK
This post originally appeared on Business Latest

The Weeknd & Ariana Grande Transform Into Animated Characters For The ‘Save Your Tears’ Remix Video

Author Jason Brow
This post originally appeared on Hollywood Life

The Weeknd & Ariana Grande Transform Into Animated Characters For The ‘Save Your Tears’ Remix Video

Seven years after teaming up for ‘Love Me Harder,’ The Weeknd reunited with Ariana Grande to remix his ‘Save Your Tears.’ We even get to see The Weeknd and Ariana in cartoon form!

If you’re crying for joy that The Weeknd and Ariana Grande have once again collaborated on a track, well, grab a tissue and, as the song says, “Save Your Tears.” Nearly a decade after these two first teamed up, The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye, 31) and Ariana, 27, partnered to remix his song from his 2019 album, After Hours. The remix also comes with a brand-new music video in which The Weeknd and Ariana transform into cartoon characters. But this isn’t a video for kids — the animated visuals play out a compelling plot.

The Weeknd, Ariana Grande
Courtesy of Youtube

In the music video for the “Save Your Tears” remix, we are taken deep down into The Weeknd’s secret laboratory in the desert where he is constructing the perfect Ms. Grande. This also seems to be a wink at the fact that Ariana also acted as a mad scientist to build the perfect Ari robot in her music video for “34 + 35.” You can watch the trippy animation above, which was directed by Jack Brown (who was also in charge of character design).

The Weeknd and Ariana first teased that they were working together on Monday (Apr. 19) when they both shared an eight-second snippet of their vocals harmonizing the lyrics, “I don’t know why I run away.” A few days later, they confirmed the collab by sharing the remix’s official artwork to their social media accounts. The art depicted an animated version of Ariana being reflected in the giant sunglasses of The Weeknd’s After Hours character.

“Save Your Tears (Remix)” marks the third time that these two have teamed up. They previously connected on “off the table,” from Ariana’s 2020 album, Positions. They first worked together six years earlier on “Love Me Harder” from Ariana’s sophomore album, My Everything. Released in 2014, “Love Me Harder” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Ariana’s fourth consecutive top-ten single off of her album. It was The Weeknd’s first top ten entry in the United States. Both “Love Me Harder” and “Earned It” – released in December 2014, the lead single to the Fifty Shade of Grey soundtrack – helped introduced The Weeknd to a wider, mainstream audience. It laid the groundwork for his subsequent superstar success – “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face” would arrive in 2015, with “Starboy” following in 2016 – but the collab did more than that. “Love Me Harder” introduced The Weeknd to Max Martin, one of the song’s writers and one of the most successful songwriters in modern history.

The Weeknd & Ariana Grande Transform Into Animated Characters For The ‘Save Your Tears’ Remix Video
The Weeknd and Ariana Grande teamed up again (Shutterstock)

“Ariana was kinda my foot in the door with Max, my chance to show him ‘I can play this game,’ y’know?” he told Variety in 2020. “But when we got in the room together, we didn’t really connect as much. Then someone invited him to a show I did at the Hollywood Bowl, and he saw 15,000 people singing along, and I think he was like, ‘OK, there’s something I’m not getting.’ So we sat down again, and the first song we created was ‘In the Night.’” They also worked on the aforementioned “Can’t Feel My Face,” four songs from Starboy, as well as six tracks from After Hours, including the chart-topping “Blinding Lights,” and the original “Save Your Tears.”

“Max and I have become literally the best of friends, but I don’t do that with many people,” The Weeknd told Variety. “It’s not that I can’t, but a collaboration is a relationship, it’s like a marriage, you’ve gotta build up to it.”