In 2020, Liverpool won their first Premier League title in 30 years, after being crowned kings of Europe just the previous season. While sport pundits worldwide credited their success to a great generation of players led by the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, they were also united in pointing out the pivotal role that Jürgen Klopp had on reshaping Liverpool’s philosophy of playing football. With Liverpool partnering with tech companies like Acronis and SkillCorner, Klopp is now in the forefront of the future of football coaching, one which seems to rely heavily on data analytics and Artificial Intelligence. In light of these new developments Serguei Beloussov, the CEO of Acronis, has even said that AI powered robots might make human coaches obsolete.
The purpose of our talk is twofold. Firstly, we will present a short overview of how AI and data analytics are being used in football coaching. Secondly, and more importantly, we want to explore whether reliance on AI, at least in it’s current form, makes the work of a coach like Klopp less meaningful.
The academic debate concerning the future of work gravitates around the concept of meaningful work. Contemporary authors maintain that the goods of work are indispensable to living fulfilled lives, and meaningful work enables people to pursue their ideal of good in a manner that promotes their autonomy, dignity and human capacities. If we support this perspective, then the recent advancements in AI systems and mobile robotics threaten not only to leave many people unemployed, but also devoid of what constitutes a source of meaning in life. Contrary to this view (which we dub as the ‘standard view’), we argue that new advancements in technology should receive an integrationist treatment from both employees and employers - AI systems and the Internet of Abilities, for example, assist and augment human capacities, rather than undercut their relevance in areas of human activity such as professional sports.