Design Your Own Athlete


How would you design your own athlete if you designed it from scratch?

The most attentive readers will have been tipped off to a trick question by the use of the word “it.”

Reid Simmons is a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and he has designed Victor, a Scrabble-playing robot. That is a heck of an achievement for which I have nothing but respect, but Victor is a sore loser and a champion trash talker.


Here is a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal written by James R. Hagerty. There is also a video showing Victor in action.

Here are some of the things Victor has been taught to say in various situations.

“Sometimes, I hate this game”

“Since you’re human, I guess you think that’s a pretty good move.”

“I am the current king of Scrabble, Victor the Mechanical Marvel. That’s Victor the Brilliant for short.”

Unknown“If I had $1 for every good word I played, I would still hate you.”

“I can’t believe your feeble mind was able to play that word.”

In addition to being an amazing designer of robots, Prof. Simmons probably has a fairly good sense of how sports figures are expected to behave.

If he is correct, what does it say about an athlete if the best way to depict “it” is a trash talking sore loser who is pretty much a jerk?

Something is going in the wrong direction and it might not be in the robotics lab.