Last week, a group of football fans got together online to talk about the NFL and make predictions about Week 15. What makes this newsworthy is how they connected, for it allowed them to tap their collective intelligence and make predictions that pummeled the Vegas odds-makers. And this was not the first time they did so well.
The group used UNU, a new online platform that allows groups to think together, combining their collective wisdom into a single intelligence called a “human swarm.” Previous UNU swarms have posted incredible results — including predicting the overall winners of all four major sports last year (Superbowl, Stanley Cup, World Series, and NBA Finals) and even outperforming the New York Times and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight in forecasting the winners of the Oscars.
This is what last week’s swarm had to say about Week 15 of the NFL. (See my previous blog posts, which went live on Reddit before the games were played, as proof these were true predictions):
- Minnesota to win by 7 at home over Chicago ( line is Minnesota -5.5 )
- Buffalo to win by 3 over Washington in a pick ’em game in Washington
- Pittsburgh to beat Denver in Pittsburgh by 6 ( line is Steelers -6 )
- Jets to win by 10 on the road in Dallas ( line is Jets -3 )
- Arizona to beat Philadelphia in Philly by 6 ( line is Arizona by 3.5 )
This is what it looks like when the swarms makes its prediction. Each of the 42 magnets you see below represents an individual user participating in a real-time. Through this process of swarming, UNU allows the group to negotiate their conflicting opinions and converge upon the answer that best expresses their collective wisdom. And it takes just seconds:
The swarm made 10 predictions in five games by forecasting both the winner and the point spread. So, how did they do? Let’s tally it up. First, the winners and losers.
- Minnesota beats Chicago
- Pittsburgh beats Denver
- Jets beat Dallas
- Arizona beats Philadelphia
- Washington beats Buffalo
The Swarm correctly picked the winner of 4 out of 5 games. Any gambler will tell you that ain’t bad, especially in the NFL where the saying goes – any team can beat any other on “any given Sunday.” But how did the swarm do against the spread? That’s the true measure of a handicapper’s skill.
- Minnesota wins by 21
- Pittsburgh wins by 7
- Arizona wins by 23
- Jets win by 3
- Buffalo loses by 10
As you can see, the swarm picked the correct team against the spread 3 out of 4 times. Note that, because the Jets / Cowboys game ended exactly on the line at Jets – 3, a bet on either team against the spread would simply be returned.
What’s this mean? Should you turn over your 401K to the wisdom of the human swarm? That’s up to you. But UNU swarms are outperforming individuals and traditional “experts” time and again. And if 40 strangers can work together to make great predictions, what could 400 people do with this technology? Or 4,000?
From my experience, UNU swarms are not only intelligent, they’re fun. And they’re forming on topics of every kind, from sports and politics, to gaming and sci-fi. If you want to try swarming, the folks at UNU are accepting new BETA USERS. Just sign up below…
Thanks for reading. As a bonus, here’s one last prediction from the swarm…