Human brain and AI will work in tandem, says Zidane

Artificial Intelligence
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The former Real Madrid playmaker also feels the human brain will continue to play a major role

For a man whose vision enabled him to see a pass when the mere mortals around him saw none in the crowded final third of the field, Zinedine Zidane smiled and spoke eloquently about how football could change once artificial intelligence comes into play.

The French midfield maestro may not be enjoying the greatest of starts at the Real Madrid dugout in his second stint as the manager of the world’s greatest club, but he certainly enthralled the audience on the opening day of the first Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sports Conference and Exhibition on Monday.

Sharing the stage with iconic Finnish mountaineer Veikka Gustafsson and legendary French wheelchair tennis champion Stephane Houdet, Zidane, who scripted French World Cup triumph in 1998 and Euro victory two years later, admitted that it would be a combination of human mind and artificial intelligence in future.

“I definitely see a combination of human brain and artificial intelligence in the future in our sport,” Zidane, the only manager to have won three consecutive Champions League titles, said on Monday.

But having said that, the former Real Madrid playmaker also feels the human brain will continue to play a major role.

“Of course, technical developments allow us to do good things in football. The technological developments are very important. Any device can give me important information, but the human brain will remain the most powerful weapon,” he said.

Zidane, who turned Cristiano Ronaldo into an out-and-out centre forward at Real Madrid and even avoided playing him in several La Liga games to keep him fresh for the big Champions League matches in the 2016-2017 season which eventually helped the ageing Portuguese superstar produce some stunning performances in the knockout games, believes artificial intelligence will help coaches manage the workload of the top players in future.

“The scientists and the doctors work every day and give us informations about the condition of our players, whether they can play or not. The availability of the players is the most important thing for any team,” Zidane said.

“But it’s difficult to be at the same level everyday even for the best players. All the tests on players that we do enable us to know whether they are ready to play.

“You know, we have such a cramped schedule. The top players have to play so many matches for both club and country. But in terms of players’ fitness and availability of players for big matches, I think football managers will be in a much better position to know which players are match fit with the help of artificial intelligence in future,” he said.

“You know to help on this at Real Madrid, I already have three people working with me. I don’t need many people around me. It’s better having 10 people you trust than having 40 people you don’t trust.”

The international break allowed the Real Madrid coach to attend the Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sports Conference and Exhibition.

But the former Real Madrid and Juventus midfielder whose artistry once made the aesthetes smile says he never likes to be away from the beautiful game.

“I don’t like to take break from football because it’s my passion. I am always involved in the game,” he smiled.

“And when you are at Real Madrid, the biggest club team in the world, you have to completely involved all the time.”

While Zidane stole the show on the opening day of the Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sports Conference and Exhibition, the second and final day will see Dutch football legend Clarence Seedorf and Ukrainian swimmer Yana Klochkova take the centre stage.

Seedorf is the only player in history to have won Champions League titles with three different clubs (Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan) and Klochkova won four Olympic gold medals in her glittering career.


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