RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Rocket's Red Glare: Real intelligence needed to pick NHL playoffs in haiku form

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated May 1st at 2:48pm 302198481

rocketThat was the most difficult headline I’ve ever had to write, not because it pained me but because distilling the things commenter Rocket wrote in his guest post into a smattering of words is not easy. He’s a complicated, hirsute man.

The upshot? He saw a movie and he picked the second round of the NHL playoffs in haiku form. Rocket?

————

Not so long ago, I got a hankering to see one of those moving picture stories that all the kids are talking about.  Rockette and I took the horseless carriage down to the local movie palace to take in one of these celluloid fantasies.  The name of this particular talkie was Ex Machina.

Like any work worthy of the title of “art,” the film has stuck with me (this is also the reason that Slap Shot is the greatest film in the history of mankind – nearly forty years after it was made and at least thirty years since I saw it for the first time it still makes me laugh just thinking about it).  It will not spoil the film to note that the questions that drive it are when will artificial intelligence be “good enough” and what would happen if we got it wrong?

Naturally the movie addressed the Turing Test and a theoretical capacity of a machine to mimic a human being effectively enough to fool actual humans.  The very nature of the Turing Test and the film’s treatment of its central conceit left me reflecting on the question of artificial intelligence and at what point it would need to reach to be “good enough.”

Eventually I came to a surprising conclusion: artificial intelligence will never be “good enough.”  This is not because I naively believe that we will never develop the sufficient technology – this is a patently absurd assertion that cannot possibly be made on a blog that you might be reading on your phone.  Rather, artificial intelligence will never be good enough because human intelligence has never been good enough.

Put differently, humans are defined by their faults.  We recognize that our flaws are the very things that which make us human.  The stories that we tell about ourselves and each other are not about the times when things go smoothly or as planned.  Rather, we seek to amuse each other with stories of when things went awry or were off-kilter or out of the ordinary.  We bond over the tough times or when we had to struggle.  And when we run across someone who only wants to talk about their successes, we consider that behavior to be their flaw.

And since we are defined by our faults, any machine that would be capable of passing the Turing Test would also have to be equally flawed.  Yet, such a possibility seems utterly and completely horrific.  Do we really want robots that are or can become jealous or depressed or schizophrenic or engage in domestic violence or homicide or genocide or any and all of the awful things that human beings continue to do to each other?  Because human intelligence is, by its very nature, deeply flawed – because we are not “good enough” – we can never make artificial intelligence “good enough” to pass the Turing Test.

This is, of course, an interesting, thought-provoking, well-written way of noting that I got a few things wrong in my last batch of predictions.  While I did get six of the eight series correct, including the Jets getting swept, I erroneously – and to my great regret – picked against the Wild.  On occasion, it is really nice to be human.

Here are the second round predictions, in haiku form:

Montreal Canadians v. Tampa Bay Lightning

Everybody knows

Carey Price is MVP

Yet his season ends

New York Rangers v. Washington Capitals

Even Ovechkin

Cannot escape the allure

Of Hank’s dreamy eyes

Anaheim Ducks v. Calgary Flames

Unfortunately

The sad ghost of Hakan Loob

Will not be avenged

Chicago Blackhawks v. Minnesota Wild

Wrong in the last round

My heart is making this pick

I believe in Doob

An uncharacteristically quiet draft night for Vikings isn't necessarily a bad thing

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated May 1st at 1:33pm 302169391

spielmanRick Spielman has gained such a reputation for wheeling and dealing on draft night that when the Vikings ended up staying put at No. 11 last night and taking CB Trae Waynes, it almost felt like a letdown.

You mean that’s it? No accumulation of picks? No assets to jump back into the first round, like the Vikings have done each of the past three seasons?

But while trading is fun and can be lucrative in terms of stockpiling picks or being bold to get a star, the downsides of those types of gambles are also numerous. The Vikings gave up four draft picks in 2013 to get Cordarrelle Patterson late in the first round. He’s very much a work in progress, while two of the players New England picked up in the deal were big factors in the Patriots’ Super Bowl team last season. And in 2006, the Vikings traded up to get Tarvaris Jackson. We all know how that worked out.

On the flip side, trading down obviously is a gamble, too, because you’re giving up a draft position of power for more (but lesser) picks. If you can do it seamlessly (as the Vikings did in 2012 by swapping one spot with Cleveland while picking up a ransom in return), there’s very little risk. But if you wind up with a bunch of inferior players when you could have nabbed a star, you look foolish.

The safe thing is keeping your pick and taking the best player available. Waynes might not electrify the fan base, but it’s important to remember, too, that some of the Vikings’ best first-round draft picks of the past couple of decades came in their original draft slots: Randy Moss at No. 21 in 1998, Chad Greenway at No. 17 in 2006, Adrian Peterson at No. 7 in 2007 and Percy Harvin at No. 22 in 2009.

If you can make a good draft night trade, by all means do it. But if it’s not there — which it sounds like was the case Thursday — forcing it for the sake of making a trade is far worse than being prudent and simply adding what should be a very good player.

Let's talk about everything going on in this Andrew Wiggins ROY t-shirt

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 30th at 5:37pm 301978441

Andrew Wiggins is the NBA Rookie of the Year, to nobody’s surprise. He wore a tuxedo to his press conference, which is an awesome move. You can never go wrong with a tux.

Not long after the official announcement came out, so did some official NBA t-shirts commemorating the event. You might be able to go wrong wearing one of these (or maybe not?):

wigginsroyshirt

Whoa, there is just an awful lot to take in there. If I’m reading it correctly, that’s a photo of Wiggins intertwined with some Timberwolves-colored ribbon (?) made to be in the shape of a wolf (?) with a Christmas tree (?) in the background.

Aw, man, now I want one just to stare at it.

NFL prop bet puts odds of Adrian Peterson draft trade at 7 to 2

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 30th at 4:13pm 301919771

tobypetersonProp bets are ridiculous things, but those who make the odds are often in the know. This is proven year after year, when Vegas keeps making more money and the general betting public gripes about woulda coulda shouldas.

As such, maybe we should pay attention to some prop bet odds from the Football Betting Center to help give us some instruction on what might happen in tonight’s first round of the NFL draft.

For instance, the odds of QB Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota going 1-2 (either order, but likely Winston first) are 1 to 2. For every $100 won, you’d need to wager $200. In other words, the draft doesn’t really get interesting until pick three (though a trade or a non-QB pick in the top two could change that).

For Vikings fans, the most interesting prop is about Adrian Peterson. The site puts the odds at 7 to 2 that Peterson will be traded during the draft. Essentially, they think it’s a long shot, but not a ridiculous long shot.

While I still think Peterson will be traded, I know I’m in the minority. Thank goodness we’ll all know soon enough.

Also, consider this an opportunity for shameless self-promotion: myself and Master Tesfatsion will be going live at 7 p.m. on startribune.com with a Vikings-focused draft livestream, and we’ll be staying on through the Vikings’ first-round pick (yes, even if they trade down). We’re both wearing suits, which is maybe enough to convince you to watch even if you don’t like football?

Ranking the Minnesota Rookies of the Year over the past 25 seasons

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated April 30th at 12:29pm 301828881

wigginsAndrew Wiggins this afternoon will become the ninth Minnesota top pro athlete — and first Timberwolves player — to win Rookie of the Year honors in his or her respective league over the past 25 seasons.

Here is a ranking of those nine athletes and how their careers turned out (with Wiggins’ ranking based on potential).

(Note: Numerous entities hand out top rookie honors in the NFL, but for our purposes this is a winner of the Associated Press award for either the top offensive or defensive rookie):

1) Adrian Peterson, NFL, 2007: Even with what transpired in the past year, Peterson will retire someday as one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game. Whether he does so in purple remains to be seen, but there’s no denying that he built on an amazing rookie season and kept on going.

2) Maya Moore, WNBA, 2011: The Lynx hadn’t made the playoffs for six consecutive seasons until Moore joined the team in 2011. Not only did they make it that year, but they also won the WNBA title. By her fourth season, she was the league MVP. It doesn’t get much better than that.

3) Randy Moss, NFL, 1998: He burst onto the scene, electrifying a fan base and taking the Vikings to the brink of the Super Bowl as a rookie. He had six great years here, a not-so-great-seventh, and some major accomplishments with New England. You could argue he belongs at the top of this list, but I put him here because there’s still a part of me that wonders if he could have been even better. I don’t wonder that about Peterson or Moore.

4) Andrew Wiggins, NBA, 2015: This is lofty company, showing what I think of Wiggins’ potential. He might not have the gear to become one of the greatest ever at his position like Peterson or Moss, but can I picture a day when he’s one of the top 10-15 players in the NBA? Easily, and it’s not that far off.

5) Seimone Augustus, WNBA, 2006: She’s a five-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2011 finals — a great player, a smooth scorer and a huge part of the success the Lynx have had in recent years.

6) Chuck Knoblauch, MLB, 1991: His career and later his life took a downturn, but let’s not forget that a rookie Knoblauch was a key to the 1991 World Series title and an in-his-prime Chuck was a sight to behold. In 1996, for example, he hit .341 with 140 runs scoerd, 62 extra-base hits, a .448 OBP and a .965 OPS — one of the top seasons at the plate for any Twins hitter in the past 20 years.

7) Percy Harvin, NFL, 2009: There was a time when I could not have imagined Harvin being so far down on this list. But for as dynamic as he can be, Harvin has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season and is on his fourth NFL team.

8) Betty Lennox, WNBA, 2000: Won top rookie honors and then played just 16 more games with the Lynx before being traded. Lennox revived her career with Seattle and had a nice prime, but her rookie season still might have been her best.

9) Marty Cordova, MLB, 1995: A very good rookie year, a great second year … and then his production dipped for the rest of his career.

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Miami - LP: T. Koehler 5 FINAL
Washington - WP: M. Scherzer 7
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 13 FINAL
Colorado - LP: T. Matzek 7
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 9 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: C. Heston 1
Cincinnati - WP: M. Leake 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: G. Cole 0
NY Yankees - LP: C. Sabathia 1 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Buehrle 5
Philadelphia 4 Bottom 7th Inning
Atlanta 7
Baltimore 1 Top 9th Inning
NY Mets 5
Arizona 5 FINAL
Colorado 1
Tampa Bay 4 Top 8th Inning
Boston 2
Los Angeles 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Milwaukee 6
Cleveland 5 Bottom 5th Inning
Kansas City 2
Detroit 3 Top 5th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Oakland 0 Top 6th Inning
Minnesota 4
Texas 10 Top 6th Inning
Houston 0
Chicago Cubs 5 Bottom 5th Inning
St. Louis 2
Seattle - R. Elias 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Chicago 91 FINAL
Cleveland 106
LA Clippers 4 1st Qtr 9:00
Houston 8
Montreal 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Rangers 1 3rd Prd 17:02
Washington 2
Los Angeles 8:30 PM
Real Salt Lake

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