With all that is going on in the world these days, you might have missed the recent news about curling. OK, if there was nothing going on in the world, you probably would have missed any news about curling. However, there was development last month that might have some serious implications for the curling world, the sport world, and perhaps humanity itself.
The big curling news was that a robot named Curly (apparently besides being boring, curling types are also not very creative) beat not one, but two elite Korean national teams. If you are not familiar with curling, the sport is sort of a mix of bowling, chess, and sweeping the floor. A player called the “thrower” gently slides a mutant-puck made of granite, aka “stone”, releasing it before crossing a boundary line, aka “hogline.” The idea is to glide the stone 100 feet down the rink to the target, aka “house.” Then the opposing team does the same thing, so both teams try accumulate stones in the house. At the end of the round, the team with the stone closest to the center of the target gets a point. If that team has extra stones closer to the center than the opposing team, those tally additional points. Yes, this sounds as riveting as it actually is, aka “not.”
The point is that Curly is actually a big achievement in machine intelligence, one that could have implications for robotics beyond the rink. Perhaps in the future, you might see robot curling in the Olympics, perhaps that might lead to other robot sports: robot bob-sledding, robot hockey, robot football, robot boxing, robot baseball. Who know where it might end? Perhaps it will go beyond sports to other things. But before you get too excited about the robot enhanced future watch “The Matrix” or “Terminator.” I don’t think those movies really went into details of how the robot revolution begain, maybe they started with curlling?