How AI is changing gymnastics judging 

Kaia Tanskanen in her blue leotard competes on uneven bars in the course of the girls’s {qualifications} of the 2023 World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.


That’s one motive Kaia (whose coach is Kim Tanskanen, her mom) is hopeful about how JSS might change competitors: “I really feel just like the scoring can be extra even,” she says.

“Particularly the smaller international locations that compete internationally—I feel the judges simply have this assumption of what’s going to occur earlier than they even begin the routine, and so they type of decide primarily based off that,” says Emma Spence, an elite Canadian gymnast who competed on the 2022 World Championships. “If we will eradicate that, I feel it should make it a little bit extra of a good probability for everyone.” 

Whereas Butcher insists that judges “hopefully are leaving their biases behind them,” he too believes the JSS might assist eradicate these elements and do extra to create an excellent enjoying subject.

But an absence of transparency round how and when JSS is utilized in competitors could undermine this ideally suited. Rating sheets at FIG occasions don’t presently embody inquiries, so there aren’t any recorded particulars about how routines have been reviewed in competitors, together with whether or not JSS was used. Rating sheets don’t embody itemized deductions, both. With a view to decide when JSS was used on the 2023 World Championships, I needed to contact particular person judges who’re excessive up within the FIG; even they couldn’t inform me precisely what number of instances the JSS was used. This data merely isn’t recorded. 

I used to be solely in a position to affirm it was used within the case of Srbić after connecting with the boys’s technical president; Srbić mentioned through electronic mail that even he didn’t know if JSS was used to determine his inquiry. 

Butcher informed me that following the 2023 World Championships, athletes ought to have been despatched a hyperlink to an internet site to see how their routines have been judged by JSS, to assist them make enhancements. However once I contacted Kaia and Kim Tanskanen after the competitors, they mentioned she hadn’t acquired any details about AI judging both throughout or after the competitors. (Butcher says that is possible a communication problem with the Finnish federation, although Satu Murtonen, the technical director of Finland’s Girls’s Creative Gymnastics, tells me, “Sadly, I don’t bear in mind receiving any details about the robotic judging.”)

When requested extra broadly about transparency, Butcher factors out {that a} ignorance about scoring isn’t dissimilar from the scenario in different sports activities wherein “athletes and coaches don’t get particular data relating to the deliberations” of judges or referees. He additionally says the JSS venture “will proceed to evolve in providing higher equity and transparency.” 

Wanting forward, Fujitsu is targeted on commercializing the expertise in order that it may be bought to gymnastics federations to make use of in follow. “Coaching is de facto the place we want this,” Butcher says. “We want the federations to have the ability to buy the Fujitsu system … and thru that use, the gymnasts enhance.” 

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