This might be the last Olympics without AI judges

Image: AP Photo/Gregory Bull
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While robot skiers are taking to the slopes alongside humans in Pyeongchang, an Olympics partner is readying artificial intelligence judges for the next summer games in Tokyo.

Japanese company Fujitsu is developing software that uses data from 3D sensors to analyze gymnastics events like the pommel horse and floor routines, according to a video released by the company last year. Fujistu is reportedly introducing this technology at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

To create the judging software, Fujitsu first captured 3D data of professional gymnasts’ performances in 2016, in an effort to create a “bone structure model” for athletes. This allows the company to understand and digitally simulate the exact position of each gymnast, which is then compared to international gymnastics committees’ standards.

The result is a digital version of a gymnast’s performance, generated almost in real time. The software can measure heights of jumps, distances, and angles of limbs.

While it’s possible these measurements could take some bias out of the scoring process, experts warned The Guardian that increased reliance on technology could introduce new risks of digital tampering with algorithms.

“If the algorithm were manipulated by even a small portion you could affect the overall outcome score and it would be very hard to detect,” Betsy Cooper, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Long-term Cybersecurity, told The Guardian.