Pros and Cons of Automation

Patriots coach Bill Belicheck is a monster at watching game tape. In The Education of a Coach (David Halberstam’s amazing biography of Belicheck), we get to see how meticulously and obsessively the legendary coach reviewed the video, winding and rewinding it to catch/internalize all the small nuances of the game.

Despite all the hate Belicheck gets for ethically controversial moves, the man has one of the most strategically sharp minds in all of sports.

Recently, Belicheck was asked about the differences today vs in previous decades about gametape and reviewing film. In a nutshell: back in the day, everything was done manually, whereas now technology has automated things to such a point that you can go in and find the exact game situations you’re looking for (down and distance, field position, players on the field, players not on the field, etc).

But, the downside?

“The downside of that is when you do it yourself, you really know what it is and you remember it,” Belichick said. “When you just see a bunch of crap on the page then you kind of skim through it and you get what you want to get out of it, but it’s not like detailing it [and] writing it out yourself.”

Technology that automates things is great. But it puts the onus on humans to decide which tasks deserve automation, to what degree should they be automated, and what tradeoffs are being accepted when automating.

 

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