Trevor Benjamin And The Machine That Destroys Humans

| March 7, 2019 | Reply

According to Wikipedia, footballer Trevor Benjamin represented 29 teams over the course of his career.

There was also a thirtieth – Sunshine George Cross in Australia – although his total appearances (goals) tallies are listed as 0 (0).

A prime example of a journeyman footballer (not my words, Carol, the words of Wikipedia).

So, if anyone ever asks you the question “How many teams has Trevor Benjamin played for?” a solid answer to give is 29.

There are other options though.

You could take your cue from Amazon Echo, the perplexing electronic puck that sits in the corner of our living room.

“Alexa,” I asked one Sunday evening, very, very bored.

“How many clubs has Trevor Benjamin played for?”

The blue light flashed. A pause. The tension was palpable.

And then…

The most rambling, incoherent answer to a question I’ve ever heard in my life.

“This might answer your question. Trevor Benjamin played for Rushden & Diamonds FC from 2003 to 2004, Gainsborough Trinity FC from 2008 to 2008, Hednesford Town FC from 2008 to 2008, Kidsgrove Athletic FC from 2009 to 2009, Northwich Victoria FC from 2008 to 2008, Cambridge United FC from 1995 to 2000, Hereford United FC from 2007 to 2008, Tamworth FC from 2009 to 2009, Woking FC from 2009 to 2009, Norwich City FC from 2002 to 2002, West Bromwich Albion FC from 2002 to 2002, Brighton & Hove Albion FC from 2004 to 2004, Crystal Palace FC from 2001 to 2002, Leicester City FC from 2000 to 2005, Peterborough United FC from 2005 to 2007, and 18 more.”

I mean I could go on…

As well as being a ridiculous way to answer the question, I’m fairly sure that total adds up to more than 29.

What an utter farce.

I read this week Amazon now has 100 million Alexa-enabled devices in circulation. Each one is collecting data, learning when something goes wrong and it gets a query it can’t handle.

Sitting on a server somewhere is a recording of my query, and the genesis of what computer scientists will one day call the Trevor Benjamin problem.

Namely, how to design an algorithm that can handle two spells with Northampton Town, one of which was a loan spell that yielded more appearances and goals than the permanent spell.

It truly is the next frontier of human achievement.

I take great comfort in tripping up Alexa because I suspect that within a frighteningly short space of time I won’t be able to anymore.

Machines are getting scarily good. Pretty soon they could be driving trucks, diagnosing complex illnesses and correctly tallying the career totals of journeyman strikers.

Already there is a machine that is destroying its human competitors in the betting game.

Its edge is not having any emotions. It’s a machine. And, like Terminator or Other Terminator (I didn’t really pay attention while watching those films), it grinds relentlessly on, unfazed by whether it wins or loses.

Anyone who bets seriously will tell you these three things are true:

1. You have runs of losses. It comes with the territory.

2. It’s vital to keep your emotions at bay through both the lows AND the highs.

3. Number 2 is often difficult to achieve.

Unless, of course, you’re a machine.

Of course, that’s not the only advantage. It’d be pretty pointless having a machine that lost you a load of money but had the dubious virtue of being able to plough on undaunted to lose you a load more.

Thankfully that’s not the case here.

Because the other edge this machine has is being able to analyse vastly more data than any human could possibly manage by themselves. And do it at lightning speed.

As such, it’s been able to outperform human competitors by an impressive margin.

See this machine’s bookie-beating track record for yourself here.

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