UNU– …That’s why the holy grail at the racetrack is the Superfecta, where bettors are asked not only to pick the winner, but the second, third and fourth horses to finish the Derby. This is fiendishly difficult task that, not surprisingly, defeated every expert at Churchill Downs, where no one predicted the top four horses correctly, much less in the correct order. In the world of AI, even Bing Predicts blew it, picking only heavily favored Nyquist to win the race, but missing the other 3 picks entirely.
So, when Hope Reese, a reporter for Tech Republic and the Atlantic, challenged Unanimous A.I. to use UNU to predict the winners of the Kentucky Derby, “we were reluctant to take on this challenge,” says David Baltaxe, Chief Information Officer at Unanimous. “Nobody here knows anything about horse racing, and it’s notorious for being highly unpredictable. Still, UNU surprises us again and again, so we recruited a swarm of volunteers through an online ad. The whole thing took 20 minutes.”
During an initial 10-minute session, the group used UNU to answer questions as a unified Swarm Intelligence, narrowing the field of 20 horses down to four winners. The swarm was then asked to order the four winners into Win, Place, Show, and Fourth. Then, a week later the Kentucky Derby announced the post positions of the horses, which impacts the potential outcome. So, the Swarm Intelligence was convened again, and asked if any changes should be made. One of the four picks was replaced by an alternate. This process took another 10 minutes.
Over the weekend, the “UNU” team successfully predicted the top four finishers in the Kentucky Derby, leading the team to cash in on almost $13,000 dollars on a $20 bet. UNU, or Unanimous Artificial Intelligence, develops technologies for Swarm intelligence. This software allows users to put together their intelligence in a swarm-like fashion to combine emotions, thoughts, and feelings in real time. This process can be used to make decisions, answer questions, or to help answer debates. For those of you familiar with the Swarm concept in drone technology (..crickets), this technology works in a similar fashion.
Swarm is not just a simple aggregate of opinions as a survey is. The technology actually works to avoid biases by creating a real-time dynamic system, constantly changing with each additional person’s input. The participants in this case of the Kentucky Derby were not horse racing experts, just regular fans working with the same goal in mind. The easiest way to understand the swarm is that it is a collection of everyone’s brain making a decision all in the same time frame.
Having said that, I know your local degenerate gambler does not give a shit about swarm technology. However, what I think they should pay attention to is how this system correctly predicted the Superfecta this weekend, and what this means for the future of sports betting. Based on my calculations, the odds of correctly picking the top four correct in the Derby are 1 in 116280 (20*19*18*17, avoiding handicaps). The fact that the algorithm correctly picked not just the favorite to win, but Exaggerator, Gun Runner, and Mohaymen to follow in that order is something else.
Although sports have a certain degree of randomness to them, what you need to understand is that over time, results are not random. The reason why sharps make lines that are almost always spot on is that they use the resources of statistics and probability to make accurate predictions over the long-run in sports. Algorithms like this one will allow bettors who do not necessarily have the means to make these determinations to pool their collective resources together. As sports become more and more predictable as our computational abilities become more and more advanced, sports betting will forever change as we know it. Although odds do change to reflect accuracy over time, the winning margins will become smaller and smaller. Listen, I’m not saying that this bot will be correct forever. In fact, the race broke as many had predicted, resulting in the top four finish. But over time, no one can argue that these technologies will help bolster the abilities of bettors around the world. The only thing that won’t be affected will be March Madness, because I don’t think any computer predicted Middle Tennessee State to knock off the Spartans this past March (had the Spartans winning the whole thing…).