One interesting piece in the article where Dan Ashworth is interviewed in the Chronicle today is that he admitted the club uses a robot that draws the white lines on the training pitch in Benton.
We know Newcastle uses the latest technology for lots of things, but there’s only so far you can go without humans being involved.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the computer technology that’s now getting a lot of publicity but has been researched for years (decades) in computing science.
There’s a lot that AI can do to help sort through various things in a mundane way from a database and get the results quickly to the user.
But it still takes human beings to look at the results and decide what to do – based on those results – and that’s where the skill comes in.
People remember the sci-fi film of 1969 – “2001: A Space Odyssey” when HAL the computer (it’s IBM with the letter after each in H (I), A (B), and L (M) ) went out of control and almost took over the Spaceship near the end of the movie, until the computer was immobilized (phew – that was close).
AI is a concern today, but it’s been talked about for years in computing, and even decades, and like all technology you have to be careful how you use it – remember splitting the atom led unfortunately to the atomic bomb.
Now back to more civil and humane things in this article – here are some interesting comments from our Sporting Director Dan Ashworth as told to Chronicle Live today:
“I listened to Elon Musk’s conference the other day with interest – that none of us are going to have a job soon!”
“You’re right, we do have a robot painting the line out there. What we try and do on recruitment is marry up the objective – data – with the subjective – the opinion – to check and challenge what the answer may be.”
“So we aren’t just data-driven, although we are data-informed. “It is also having the industry knowledge and suitability.”
“A player suited for Newcastle United in the Premier League and for Eddie Howe might not be suited for Aston Villa and Unai Emery.”
” So that is where you bring the subjective part into it – is he or she a good player, which data can drive but not get away from the industry knowledge and scouting reports and experience.”
“So we use both – there are so many players out there and you can’t scout them all.”
“We bring them down to a manageable number and then check them with our eye, with our subject opinion, and then it will get challenged again as the player starts to come through the system.”
“I always think it is important that you have some industry knowledge assessing the data.”
“The example I use is I can go to the stock exchange and get the same data as an experienced trader, but that data could mean nothing to me and yet the experienced trader can make sense that data and make an educated decision on what stock to buy or sell.”
“We would be getting the same information but for me, it could mean absolutely nothing.”
“Certainly a large amount of reference checking from players they’ve played with or coaches, agencies, just try and get as much information as you can.”
“We do that for lots of different roles as well, not just players, you do your references in any field of work, whether it’s an academy coach or head of psychology.”
“You want to try and get as many reference points as you can about what sort of person you’re bringing into your organisation but you never truly know until that person starts working.”
Newcastle could put various characteristics (reference points) down for a man to replace Tonali in January for a topical example – if that’s the only thing the club wanted to do – bring him in on loan until the end of the season.
The various databases of (central midfield) players could then be searched to come up with say the top 5 players who play nearly exactly the same way as Tonali.
Note that the information has to be available in the databases, but at the end of the day, it’s experienced Sporting Directors like Dan Ashworth who will choose the best player suited to the club, from the players returned by the computer.
Ashworth shows a lot of common sense in those comments above, and what he has is experience in his field – that’s something you cannot beat.
So we seem to be in very good hands with Dan Ashworth leading the way on player recruitment, and we have already seen that over the last two years when we have made some stellar signings.
Certainly signing Dan Ashworth was one of those stellar signings.