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Commentary: Football’s VAR is a lesson in flawed technology

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First, technology should never be used just for technology’s sake. It should only ever be deployed in clear and limited situations where it can demonstrably improve the process, to inform a human expert’s decision, not replace it.

But efficiency also matters. In trying to solve one set of problems, technology should not create new ones. Systems should constantly be improved in response to feedback.

To that end, it is vital that users –and fans – understand how the system works and trust the methodology. Black box systems are rarely a good idea. In that sense, video officials at cricket matches do a better job of showing the evidence to viewers and explaining how they reach their decisions.

Ensuring that decisions can be explained is as crucial for VAR as it is for artificial intelligence systems, now widely used in many areas such as finance, healthcare and law.

The principle behind VAR of “minimum interference, maximum benefit” is a good one. But experience demonstrates how difficult that is to implement in real life.

As maths teachers insist, show your workings when solving any problem. VAR’s decision-making processes should themselves be reviewed.

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