Paul the octopus.
Paul the octopus.

Bringing Paul the octopus back to life, with AI

Goldman Sachs has used data mining and artificial intelligence to predict the winner of the 2018 FIFA World Cup starting today

The biggest phenomenon of the 2010 football World Cup was not a country or player but Paul the octopus. The German creature’s alleged ability to pick the winning team before the match made it a star. Two World Cups later, oracles have become more sophisticated.

Goldman Sachs has used data mining and artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the winner of the World Cup starting today (Brazil, for those who are interested). More, it has predicted the winner of every match and the goals scored by each team. The proof, of course, will be a few weeks coming.

But here’s a thought. Whether it works this time or not, given the rate at which machine learning is advancing, somewhat reliable predictions may well become a possibility in the not-too-distant future. What does this mean for the betting business? A survey in 2013 had pegged the global worth of sports betting to be in the $700 billion-$1 trillion range. Seventy percent of that came from football. AI making accurate, granular predictions throws a rather large spanner in those works. Or will the glorious uncertainties of sports win out?

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