by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 3rd 2008 9:59pm
Last week, Major League Baseball introduced instant replay for the first time (oddly, MLB rushed the introduction mid-season, with no real testing), which has many wondering if the rather "human" element of umpires making bad calls will be a lost element of the game. While it can suck when such wrong calls go against your team, the umpires' ability to screw up has always been a part of the appeal to many fans of the game. However, Farhad Manjoo over at Slate is wondering about the inevitable next step: moving to completely automated umpires and referees in various sports. He compares the Hawk Eye system that is used in tennis to determine whether a ball is in or out to the efforts in MLB, but points out that computerized systems are far from perfect. In fact, they can lead to some highly questionable results, such as a situation in which every single human observer believed a ball was out, and even television replays showed the ball appeared out -- but Hawk Eye claimed it was in, and that the problem was that human eyes weren't good enough to see if the ball was really in or out. At that point, it makes you wonder whether or not such a machine ruling really makes sense.
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