Regardless, I’m going to ask …
Will a robot take your coaching job?
Will you be replaced by a machine?
There’s a new reality brewing
You, we, me are way too valuable to be replaced by a machine. We bring too much to the role of a coach.
How could we possibly be replaced by a robot?
Heads up — it’s happening already.
- Yesterday, I took my pulse during practice by placing two fingers on my carotid artery, Coach would count to 10, then I would multiply by 6.
- Today, I all have to do is look at my Fitbit and read the display.
- Yesterday, to fine-tune a player’s moves to the basket, Coach would stand, watch and then instruct.
- Today, video cameras are turned on, and players can watch their mistakes in all shades of slow motion. Where, when and how they want to watch it. (Each NBA team has six cameras in the ceiling.)
- Yesterday, the intensity of my workout was at best an estimation.
- Today, an app tracks my steps, stairs and heart rate and tells me to work harder or rewards me when I exceed my goals.
Are those robots? Close.
A robot can be defined as a mechanical or virtual artificial agent, electro-mechanical in nature, which is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry.
I think it’s scary how close we are to robot-coaches.
Why do humans even need to be involved in the coaching process?
Is it because we know more than machines and computers. Actually, we don’t.
Is it because we can communicate better. Actually, we can’t.
Is it because a machine could never drive better than us? Actually, they can.
Or is it because we learn as we go — and machines don’t. Actually, they do. As evidenced by an artificial intelligence named Giraffe, which taught itself to play chess and attained an International Master status in just 72 hours.
Taught. It. Self.
Knowledge, communication and learning are NOT just human strengths. Machines can do them, and if they aren’t doing them better than us TODAY, they will TOMORROW.
So what does a human-coach actually do better than a robot-coach? Humans blow away robots in at least two areas — areas critical to coaching: empathy and relationships.
Empathy — We can read people’s facial expressions. We can tell by the look in their eyes or their voice intonation how they’re feeling and what’s going on. We can grasp what they are emoting.
But, how long until robots can do that?
For instance, the computer I’m typing on has facial recognition. How difficult will it be to connect that recognition with an emotional data base? Then, when I sit down at my computer, it knows how I feel. “Need a few minutes of Twitter, Mike, to see what your friends are doing? It’ll pick you up.“
Stay tuned on this, because I think it’s happening now.
Relationship — A critical factor in coaching is the ability to build positive relationships. A robot could never do that. Right?
Well — what’s your relationship with your smart phone?
- Do you talk to it, and enjoy the responses?
- If you lose it, do you panic? (Lots of people do, and it’s called nomophobia.)
- Do you sleep with it?
- Does it know you, better than your friends do?
- Are you more honest with it, than your doctor?
- Do you love it?
Even if you don’t do any of those, I bet you know someone who does.
I’m lousy at predicting the future. But there are voices to listen to.
Scott Santens wrote Robots Will Take Your Job, published in the Boston Globe. In the article Santens writes about the jobs already being replaced by robots (hint — it’s not just on the assembly line).
And he throws this bomb shell on the reader, “Nothing humans do as a job is safe anymore. From making hamburgers to anesthesiology, machines will be able to successfully perform such tasks and at lower costs than humans.”
Evidence suggests Santens is right.
To keep our coaching jobs, we need to be valuable.
So, what makes YOU more valuable to your athletes/team/organization than a robot?
I’d love to hear …