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The Ghost in the Basketball Machine

On May 30, 2018, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they were investigating reports that their president of basketball operations, Bryan Colangelo, used several secret Twitter accounts to criticize the Sixers team, engage in debates with its staff, and release private player medical information. It's a discovery that's damaging to the Sixers team (and also to it's #1 fan, Tony Merkel!). If the reports are true, it's a strange, hurtful blow for one member of an organization's front office to deal against his own team.

Also strange is how Colangelo's alleged Twitter indiscretions were discovered: through A.I. No, not Sixers Hall-of-Famer Allen Iverson- the other A.I.: artificial intelligence.  The unnamed source who discovered the Twitter accounts claims to work in the artificial intelligence field and, after noticing a “bunch of weird tweets” aimed at the Sixers, utilized "an open-source data analysis tool to link five accounts through commonalities including similarities in who the accounts followed and linguistic quirks."  That sounds like a mouthful, but the premise is simple: a form of artificial intelligence used its robotic brain to analyze human behavior and start naming names. By comparing similar phrases, images, and topics tweeted by the various accounts, A.I. can almost definitively point its virtual finger at Colangelo as the Twitter account perpetrator.

While the use of A.I. is only a mentioned as a minor part of this breaking story, the implications could be major- namely by showing us 1) how artificial intelligence is already being used as a viable means of analyzing human behavior to identify the committer of a "crime" (Minority Report, anyone?), and 2) that we may never know if and when artificial intelligence is quietly running in the background, watching everything we do.

The news of Colangelo's reckless tweeting is the topic that's making waves throughout the NBA franchise, but how his secret tweets were discovered is something we should all take note of- and be conscious of as a "the future" of science fiction moves ever closer to the present!

To read the full story surrounding the Sixers' Twittergate controversy, find the original article here: https://www.theringer.com/nba/2018/5/29/17406750/bryan-colangelo-philadelphia-76ers-twitter-joel-embiid-anonymous-markelle-fultz.