The Masters begins this week, and the 87th edition of the historic golf tournament will arrive with a modern twist: commentary of video highlights generated by artificial intelligence (AI), courtesy of IBM.
The longtime Masters sponsor will provide automated audio commentary on more than 20,000 video clips of shots during the Masters, which runs this Thursday through Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
Fans can access the spoken AI commentary through the official Masters app or Masters.com. According to a press release, IBM trained the AI to process the language of golf “with varied sentence structure and vocabulary, avoiding redundant play-by-play iterations to make the clips informative and engaging.”
Watson Text to Speech, a cloud-based API chatbot service from IBM, was used to build the new audio commentary feature. IBM’s Watson AI will also power new hole-by-hole player predictions at this year’s Masters to project a player’s score on each hole throughout the tournament.
IBM’s AI models will analyze six years worth of historical Masters performances—more than 120,000 golf shots in total—to cast the predictions, which can help fans make decisions for their fantasy golf teams. It’s an elevated version of last year’s round-by-round score prediction feature. IBM has been an official partner of The Masters since 1996.
The rise of AI chatbots and generative AI has dominated tech headlines in recent months, with industries far and wide experimenting with the fast-evolving technology. However, with optimism and excitement also comes fear over the broader societal impact of AI.
Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Andrew Yang were among over 1,100 prominent technologists and researchers to sign an online petition last week that called on OpenAI to pause development of its ChatGPT-4 generative AI system, due to concerns about the impact that advanced artificial intelligence can have on humanity without safeguards and regulations.
IBM is among the latest technology giants to embrace furthering generative AI, which differs from the company’s approach on another controversial form of AI-driven technology.
In 2020, IBM stopped offering and developing its facial recognition services, and sent a letter about racial justice reform to Congress that read, “IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms.”
“Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool that can help law enforcement keep citizens safe,” the 2020 letter from IBM CEO Arvind Krishna reads. “But vendors and users of AI systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that AI is tested for bias, particularly when used in law enforcement, and that such bias testing is audited and reported.”