The House View: Generative AI – good, bad or just a great party trick
February 16, 2023
A new term has gripped the business of sport – Generative AI. Chat GPT’s meteoric rise to one million users in just five days of release was impressive. However, the nascent stage of the technology as well as the risks of running too far too fast were exposed during last week’s launch of Google’s AI chatbot, Bard. The launch, during which Bard gave incorrect answers to questions posed by users, did not go down well on Wall Street.
What is Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
According to McKinsey, Generative AI “describes algorithms (such as ChatGPT) that can be used to create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, and videos”.
The sport business would be a dull place without buzzwords. But where do people working inside the business see the short and long term potential of generative AI? I asked a few experts across the sports industry for their thoughts on the potential use cases – both good and bad.
Sharpening our message and overcoming communication barriers
There is an undoubted short term use case around helping organisations to communicate more effectively internally as well as externally.
“It is important to see generative AI in a broad context for sport where LLM’s (Large Language Models) are just one domain. ChatGPT (I say it stands for Great Party Trick) and Bard will allow for efficiencies and changes to how we do things – so for instance we recommend that people in our organisation that have to share information in English ask for a better version or a summary and it works a treat”.
“Generative AI isn’t something which we’ve looked at as a business, but there’s a wealth of comms that we produce all year round – there’s definitely scope for AI to help in this area. We send pre- and post-event emails to all our guests, and we host hundreds of events each year. The tech seems to be 99% there, but it’s still throwing up small mistakes which can have big consequences – just look at what happened to Google’s share price when they launched their bot! With the reputation that sports brands need to uphold, I don’t think they’ll quite be replacing communications teams just yet!”
(Sports Venue Owner / Operator)
The use of generative AI to access education and to deliver course work is a concern that is shared by some experts in the sports industry…
“From a sports management perspective, this is a point of interest and concern. I think we have maybe even seen our first evidence of this being used on applications for next year. I think it reinforces the quintessential role of real learning experiences at all levels”.
(Sports Management Education Institution)
Scaling commercial products
For first movers, there are some commercial use cases which are or soon will be within reach and will no doubt create more work for the lawyers amongst us along the way…
“I personally feel the real step change is coming from other domains such as image, video and audio. GAN (Generative Adversarial Networks) and VAE (Variational Autoencoder) based services have shown stunning developments and are extending into video and audio already. A synthetic Messi that talks to you in his own voice is very doable now – someone just has to pay the licence fee as they have done with James Earl Jones for Darth Vader. The next version will be a full 3D synthetic version of Haaland that you experience as very real – look at the latest from Unreal and other gaming engines. These will allow for a development of new experiences and can put you right in the box as that cross from Guro Reitan came in”.
Improving the search for information and data
Internet search is currently one of, if not, the most commercially attractive use case for this technology. However, the concept of search goes much wider and can open up a number of use cases for sports organisations on a micro level…
“We can also include chat based search into our areas like coach education or finding tickets. No doubt new services and ideas will come from LLM’s too and it’s going to be interesting to see how the billions of queries related to sports data and events change going ahead”.
The revolution is coming, like it or not!
Like it or not, generative AI is here to stay. We are only at the beginning of understanding its potential, both the good and the bad. It’s clear from the small number of conversations that we had, that it is too soon for many sports organisations to invest resources to actively investigate generative AI and some remain cautious or sceptical.
“I’m not sure how I feel about Chat GPT just yet. Sports teams already use chatbots to assist with customer service and interaction. However, this brings up the fact that we are relying on technology more but not necessarily in a productive way. The fact that these are “learning” chatbots and that there have been issues such as misinformation or hostility is a little frightening”.
For those of you whose thinking is more advanced, the use cases are almost infinite…
“So I think that Generative AI can and will affect everything from how we administer our sport (an AI generated fixture list), to how we experience it (it was really me who scored that winner in the Champions League final), to how we monetise it (rights for “real” players and rights for “synthetic” players). As always there will be a full-on hype cycle where angels fear to tread. It will be best for us in an association to watch, learn and be ready because this is definitely coming”.
David Fowler is the Managing Director of the iSportConnect Advisory team and Co-Founder of SportsTech Match. If you want to find out more about the iSportConnect Advisory team or chat about how Generative AI will impact your organisation, then contact David on email@example.com.