Rory McIlroy is probably barely old enough even to have heard of HAL 9000 from Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but he had an encounter recently with a different form of artificial intelligence.
In a video done by the European Tour, McIlroy took on the Golf Laboratory Computer Controlled Hitting Machine, which called himself Geoff.
The swing robot challenges McIlroy to a contest to see who can hit as many golf balls into the open doors of washing machines scattered through a driving range — just as McIlroy did on an Irish TV show as a child. The world No. 2 reluctantly takes on the challenge.
As the robot and McIlroy try to figure out how to make the shots, the robot has some zingers (anyone say Zingbot?) for McIlroy, including:
Following the first shot that McIlroy misses, the robot says, “You know, losing to a robot is like losing to Martin Kaymer.”
After the robot makes its first shot to tie the score at 1 apiece, the washer makes a sound like a slot-machine jackpot. The robot says, “Is that the same noise you heard when you signed your sportswear contract?”
Then the robot drills a commercial-grade washer 300 yards away before McIlroy can. Rory comes over and playfully tries to unplug the robot, but the robot comes back with, “Do you realize what you just touched?” which made him double over in laughter.
For the last challenge, a washer is raised on a pneumatic lift. Looking on, so to speak, the robot prods McIlroy by saying, “Tiger Woods would’ve been home with his feet up by now.”
Rory finally pulls off the shot, then delivers his own zinger, “Did you ever think about becoming something else, like a photocopier?”
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