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Korean Students Invited to Build AI Soccer Players

We know artificial intelligence can outsmart humans at an abstract strategy board game. But can it bend it like Beckham?

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) this week announced an upcoming AI soccer tournament for university students.

Scheduled for November, the competition will include three machine-powered aspects: gameplay, analysis, and reporting, according to The Korea Times.

Teams of five artificial players—four outfielders, one goalkeeper—will face off against each other in a series of preliminary matches. The final winner is set to be crowned on Dec. 1.

KAIST is going full-ESPN, though, with the introduction of a game analysis contest, in which the neural network that creates “the most accurate … commentary” during matches wins a prize. The same goes for the AI reporter that pens the best post-match results “in a news-writing format,” the Times said.

This fall’s event is a world first, according to KAIST, which encourages all local college and graduate school students to participate (applications are open through September).

Famous for running an annual international robot soccer competition for the public since the mid-’90s, the academy is now turning its attention the next generation of creators.

And assuming all goes well, the Institute promised to invite foreign clubs to next year’s tourney.

“Overseas teams will be able to participate in the AI [soccer] matches next year, and we expect the tournament to become an internationally renowned tech event in the future,” computer engineering professor Kim Jong-hwan, president of KAIST’s AI World Cup Committee, told The Korea Times.

The original International Micro Robot World Cup Soccer Tournament (MIROSOT)—now formally called RoboCup—was born in KAIST’s Robot Intelligence Technology Lab in 1995. An American team from Newton Labs won the first competition, held in Taejon, Korea, in November 1996.

The Federation of International Robot-soccer Association (FIRA) was established two years later, just ahead of 1998’s International Robot Olympiad Committee (IROC), formed for the World Robot Olympiad.

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