Augmenting, interacting, reflecting

Helping with a shoe lace

I have revisited Douglas Engelbart’s 1962 paper Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework (link). I did so after Mark Upton shared links with me to Dan McQuillan’s Towards an anti-fascist AI (link) and Joi Ito’s (2018) Resisting Reduction manifesto (link).

Joi’s manifesto includes reference to Norbert Wiener’s 1950 The Human Use of Human Beings (link). (By coincidence, I have been researching Norbert’s work in cybernetics for a paper I have been writing about computer science in sport developments in Russia.)

Another nudge in this direction came from an alert to Ben Shneiderman’s (2019) Encounters with HCI Pioneers (link). It is Ben’s personal history of the intellectual arguments and people he encountered.

The final impetus for this post came from a Stephen Downes post today (link) that concludes “We can discuss ethics, we can refer to them – but you can’t make people ethical – at least, not in the sense that everybody is ethical in exactly the same way everyone else is ethical. And if you depend on this in order to succeed, you won’t succeed.” (Original emphasis)

I see all of these links as important prompts to explore our taken-for-grantedness views of the world. Joi points out “the paradigms that set our goals and drive the evolution of society today have set us on a dangerous course”. This would include, I think, a consideration of how the discipline Douglas envisaged aimed at understanding and harnessing “neural power” might be sufficiently reflective to pose questions about it own paradigmatic certainty.

I take this to be the essence of Dan McQuillan’s argument about artificial intelligence (AI):

AI is political. Not only because of the question of what is to be done with it, but because of the political tendecies of the technology itself. The possibilities of AI arise from the resonances between its concrete operations and the surrounding political conditions. By influencing our understanding of what is both possible and desirable it acts in the space between what is and what ought to be.

He concludes:

Real AI matters not because it heralds machine intelligence but because it confronts us with the unresolved injustices of our current system. An antifascist AI is a project based on solidarity, mutual aid and collective care. We don’t need autonomous machines but a technics that is part of a movement for social autonomy.

These are profound issues for us. Sport has to be part of this debate about how we might all flourish in changing times. I take Stephen’s point about different ethical views of the world that inform our practices. I am hopeful that the ‘collective care’ Dan mentions can give us a shared journey embedded in the harmony discussed by Joi.

Photo Credit

Photo by Adrià Crehuet Cano on Unsplash

Richard, Neil and Charles

Last week, I had the good fortune to correspond with Richard Pollard. Our email exchange coincided with the publication of Richard’s most recent paper titled Invalid Interpretation of Passing Sequence Data to Assess Team Performance in Football: Repairing the Tarnished Legacy of Charles Reep (2019) (link).

Richard Pollard

I have been following Richard’s work since the publication of his paper on skill and chance in ball games co-authored with Charles Reep and Bernard Benjamin in 1971 (link).

I will write a much more detailed post about Richard’s work but in this brief post I want to affirm his part in the story of the emergence of the observation, notation and analysis of performance in association football.

Along with Neil Lanham, Richard is a custodian of Charles Reep’s experiences as a football analyst. Both have a vital role to play in demystifying Charles’ place in a history of ideas and practices.

Richard’s statistical insights and vision over the last forty years combined with Neil’s experience of recording oral traditions (link) make it possible to compile a rich account of their experiences in the early years of football analysis.

Neil Lanham

Neil has a book awaiting publication that, like Richard’s 2019 paper, should address some of the profound misconceptions about Charles’ work and locate it within Neil and Richard’s involvement in analysis (link).

Like Richard and Neil, I believe Charles’ work has been misrepresented and unfairly demonised. I hope to continue to share accounts of Richard, Neil and Charles’ work in the spirit of Sam Wineburg’s suggestion that each generation “must answer for itself anew why the study of the past is important” and “remind us why history can also bring us together” (link).

I did meet Charles at his home in Torpoint but did not make it to his shed. I am immensely grateful to Richard for sharing this picture of Charles with his archive of papers at the bottom of his garden. Somewhere in there is his roll of wallpaper that is a hand notation of the 1958 World Cup final that Charles notated in real time at the final. He transcribed his A4 paper notations onto a roll of wallpaper in an attempt to capture the flow of a game that had seven goals and included two goals scored by Pele (link).

There is no record of what happened to this archive. We can do much better with his legacy.

A photograph of Charles Reep in his garden shed with his archive of papers.
Charles Reep at home

Insights … and (career) decisions

I follow developments in High Performance Sport New Zealand with great interest, particularly now that Jacquie Tran is a Senior Insights Researcher there.

Today, Jacquie shared the announcement of the availability of two insights researcher positions in the Knowledge Edge team. The job descriptions are on the HPSNZ web site (link).

The advert has this section:

Some familiarity with (or readiness to learn) the following would be advantageous:

  • Thematic analysis and natural language processing
  • Relational databases (e.g., SQL)
  • Programming languages for working with data (e.g., R, Python, Stata)
  • Visualisation tools (e.g., Tableau, Power BI).

The job purpose notes that the insights researcher “will assist with capturing, analysing, exploring and reporting on qualitative and quantitative data”, “utilise a relational database” and “visualise data patterns and support the investigation of insights … to inform performance decision-making”.

I was delighted to read that the first line in the person specification highlights “curiosity and passion”. Candidates can have completed a tertiary degree with a research component or have experience in a research based field.

I hope they get lots of applications for these opportunities. Their availability signals are growing trend in sport and raises some very important pedagogical and experiential issues.

Photo Credit

Mount Roskill hoto by Bill Fairs on Unsplash