The recent hearing on Legalization of Internet Gambling heard on October 25, 2011 brought up a number of concerns about poker bots. This has sparked a bigger debate amongst players on how to respond and combat the growing problem.

I think the poker bot argument is a very good microcosm of what is going to happen to all games and sports(not to mention jobs) over the next century. Let’s take a look at a few:

Jeopardy
As I’m sure you’re all aware Watson destroyed the best Jeopardy players handily in a much publicized match in February 2011. Does this mean the end of Jeopardy? For now only IBM has the capabilities to use the machine and it takes up the size of a large room, but how long before the technology is in the hands of everyone and the size of your fingertip? How will Jeopardy stop cheaters?

Nascar
As I’ve mentioned before on my blog Google has a self driving car How long before they enter a car and driver into a Nascar race? And win? They first came out with the cars over a year ago. It’s only a matter of time. Is Nascar going to ban cars that aren’t driven by humans? Will all the teams eventually get virtual drivers? Think about how much faster the races will be. Fans will love it. Or will they? Does it take the excitement out of the sport when you know someone’s not risking their life driving the car at 200mph? What about all the sponsors and the drivers decked out driving suits? What happens when the driverless car wins? Is the driverless car going to do a couple of victory donuts? Are the programmers who tweaked the driving algorithm going to rush the track and douse each other in champagne? Are the fans going to go wild for the computer nerds who made it happen? Is the whole fanbase going to change from that of the average working family to that of battle bots?

Baseball
These robots pitch and hit a ball. This video is from over two years ago.

Golf
There’s already machines out there with the perfect golf swing. How long before they take down Tiger Woods?

Soccer/Futbol
This one’s a long way off still but Robocup runs a robot soccer competition every year and has a publicly stated objective:

“By mid-21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win the soccer game, comply with the official rule of the FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”

Boxing
Real Steel obv. By 2020 though… no chance.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. We may try to ban all new technologies like we did the shark skin suit for swimming or even the aluminum bats for baseball, but this won’t stop it. Sooner or later a cyborg is going to try to compete in the Olympics and it’s going to cause a lot of controversy.

One Response to “Poker Bot”

  1. btimm says:

    I think some things will change definitely, but I doubt we see too much change in the avenues you mention. Think about the fan bases of these sports. Baseball is a sport with so many traidtionalists. Hell, half the fanbase still hasn’t come around to the idea of a DH and don’t even mention an automated strike zone. Robots playing the game itself? No way, not any time soon.

    The typical NASCAR fan is not someone you would think would be into robots and I do think that is a sport where without human drivers, you would see a massive decline in the fanbase. I know this is stereotyping, but that is what you have to do when thinking about these things.

    Now the question is this … will the sports draw in NEW fans that care about robots participating, and is it enough to overtake the quantity of the existing fanbase? But the fanbases themselves as it is now won’t go for it I don’t think.

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