Tech giant IBM is applying the expertise of Watson—its artificial intelligence—to… wait for it… fantasy football.
IBM is bringing its AI game to fantasy sports.
The tech giant has teamed up with Kickstarter newbie Edge Up Sports for a new app that the two companies claimed will take the grind out of fantasy football fans’ weekly research. The app taps IBM Watson to crowdsource data—stuff like injuries, roster changes, disciplinary actions, and benched players, among others—and offer an overlook outlook for every player on a fantasy team’s roster.
Kyle Kramer, former tight end for New Orleans Saints, helped customize the AI in sifting through the deluge of information and cut research time from hours to minutes, tech media EE Times reported.
Aside from players’ statistics, the app also offers commentators opinions, news coverage, player tweets, even weather reports and official announcements.
EE Times quoted Edge Up Sports CEO Ilya Tabkh, who said the AI’s technology will “look at a number of different news outlets—and what they say about players—providing an inside track to analysis and presenting a summary view of all the sport writers, including taking into account their personalities, whether they are pessimists or optimists or whatever.”
He said the goal is to save time for a lot of fantasy team owners, especially casual players who are involved in different leagues.
“One of the things we’re doing is just taking a wider view of the landscape. We think it’s a more complete picture of what’s going on,” Tabkh told Wired in a separate interview.
There are misgivings about introducing artificial intelligence to gambling. Last May, CalvinAyre.com’s Lee Davy talked about how using varying forms of AI—at least in online poker—is already an example of greed versus sensibility.
For instance, a London-based player quickly rose through the profit ranks thanks to a highly sophisticated voice-recognition software that can best other players in Heads Up Sit n Go poker. PokerStars got its hands on the technology, and after checking, gave the go signal to use on its online network.
Just recently, Jason Les and three other poker pros played 80,000 hands of online poker against Carnegie’s supercomputer. The humans won the match, but scientists said it was a tie, and the data gathered from the games will be used to tweak the AI to beat the humans in the next face-off.
Daily fantasy sports is already a multi-billion dollar industry. Online fantasy football website FanDuel estimated in 2014 that the fantasy sports industry is worth $4 billion. But wagering on fantasy sports teeters on a huge gray area that is subject to different interpretations, particularly on its legality in the state level. The states of Florida and Kansas already have laws in place that prohibit gambling on fantasy sports.
Now we have AI thrown into the mix. Where is this headed? Should we start sounding the alarm bells?