Monday, October 11, 2021

This robot’s artificial intelligence helps beat the world’s best soccer players.

Meet Normal. His name is artificially intelligent, and he plays football for decades. He’s also the chief architect of an artificial intelligence competition for robots that will put him up against and beat the world champions of soccer — those best when it comes to kicking a soccer ball as far as they can.

In the Sept. 29 photo above, Normal is not with a teammate. He’s outside a conference room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sprawled on the concrete, helmet and gloves on his head, minding his own business. What Normal wants to do isn’t quite clear, but when it comes to home in the future, these are the sorts of things that get us excited.

The more we learn about artificial intelligence, the more we realize its power and scope. Take a closer look at our chat with Eric Kropp, the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and you start to realize that this A.I. exists outside of human cognition as well, and as a machine.

He wants us to notice an irony: Humans constantly get excited about the possibility of artificial intelligence outrunning human intelligence, but it’s not currently close to happening. Robots, too, aren’t as close to beating humans in precision soccer as they once thought. And we’re becoming realists about artificial intelligence outside of AI.

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