First they came for the Jeopardy! players, and we did not speak out. Then they came for the incredibly creative professional Go players, and we did not speak out. But now, artificial intelligence has come for the pub games, and we are speaking the hell out.
Does BYU know what it has done? A group of engineering students created a robot that uses a camera and lightning fast pneumatic reflexes to defeat humans on one of the last bastions of competition they have left — foosball.
“You think, oh yeah, humans ultimately should always be better than the computer because we have that ability to adapt in real time, but [with] this A.I., we can take and predictively adapt this computer in a similar fashion,” said Nathan Warner, a BYU computer engineering student. “We’re actually struggling to keep up.”
BYU is a dry campus, and while foosball is a wonderful game to play sober, it is also a terrific outlet for raucous competition after several drinks. Or at least, it was, until BYU announced to the world that they had created an A.I.-robot combination capable of smacking near-perfect full-field shots from the goalie through a (admittedly weak, step it up BYU engineer) human defense.
Seriously, look at this:
Jokes aside, the robot is a pretty impressive bit of programming and machinery. They mapped human players to program an algorithm that let the A.I. mimic human play patterns and then adapt them to lay the smackdown on its organic foes. Check out the full video, complete with an overzealous announcer, below.