Facepalm: It's not unheard of for human camera operators to get distracted during sports events, but it seems that the problem only becomes more pronounced when you put a machine in charge. During a recent soccer match between Scottish teams Caledonian Thistle and Ayr United, an AI camera operator repeatedly zoomed in on a linesman's bald head, clearly mistaking it for a soccer ball.
It would be bad enough if the issue popped up once or twice, but as the fan-made highlight video published above shows, it easily happened dozens of times. It was so frequent, in fact, that the AI missed its opportunity to capture a real goal from Ayr United -- a real blow to morale for the team's fans, we're sure.
Caledonian Thistle was the team responsible for bringing the AI camera operator to the field, but it's difficult to blame them for this situation. AI is notoriously unpredictable at times, and for a machine that cannot understand real-world situations with the same accuracy as a human, it's easy to see how it could confuse a bright, shiny bald head for a distant soccer ball.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle don’t employ a cameraman as their camera is programmed to follow the ball throughout the match. The commentator had to apologise today as the camera kept on mistaking the ball for the linesman’s head... pic.twitter.com/LeKsc2bEj7— Tom Cox (@seagull81) October 24, 2020
According to one viewer, the commentator struggling to follow the action through the AI's erratic movements was forced to apologize for the malfunction. He was probably a bit too hard on himself, though: again, faulty machine learning is nobody's fault but the ones who developed it, and even then, it would have been nearly impossible for them to predict a situation like this.
Though we're sure this dilemma was unpleasant for fans of both teams at the time, at least we can all have a laugh about it now and hope the AI works a bit better next time. Alternatively, the teams could just ask the linesman to wear a cap in the future.