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Soccer fans may scoff at the notion of robot players defeating humanity's finest, but just keep in mind that chess fans probably did the same when IBM programmers boasted that a computer would one day beat a Grandmaster. So when computer science professor Claude Sammut declares that tech innovations will allow "fully autonomous" soccer-loving robots to be able out-duel the world's best players by 2050, it may not be merely the stuff of science-fiction:

In the same spirit of a grand challenge, RoboCup aims, by the year 2050, to develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world soccer champion team.

As of now, the project that Sammut is involved in, Robocup, is teaching the basics of soccer to the still toddling A.I. species. And even though they "are having difficulties learning how to control the ball and dribble ... he remains confident that one day they will display the same skills as the Wayne Rooneys' of the future."

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