Back in the 1990s, Paul Hawkins was a British Ph.D. student in artificial intelligence. He also happened to be a semiprofessional cricket player. He once drove 300 miles to get from his school to a match. Upon arriving at the field, he stepped up to bat and almost immediately fell victim to what he deemed a horrifically bad call by the umpire. "It was a very long drive back to my university after the match ended," says Hawkins, "and I had plenty of time to stew and think."
Most of us react to dumb calls that go against our teams by shrieking at the ref, hurling objects at our TVs, or perhaps posting exasperated rants on Internet message boards. Hawkins did none of these things. Instead, he formulated an idea. What if he could use his technological know-how to make bad calls in sports a thing of the past?