Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, has successfully predicted the outcome of every match of this year’s World Cup elimination round.
Incredibly, Cortana is on track to correctly predict more World Cup wins than Paul the Octopus – a psychic sea octopus, who died in 2010, became a worldwide sensation when he predicted the winning team in eight of the 2010 tournament’s matches — including the final.
Cortana relies on Microsoft’s Bing search engine to power its predictions. Bing uses models evaluate the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie record in qualification matches and other international competitions and margin of victory in these contests, adjusted for location since home field advantage is a known bias. Further adjustments are made related to other factors which give one team advantages over another, such as home field (for Brazil) or proximity (South American teams), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other such factors. In addition, data obtained from prediction markets allows us to tune the win/lose/tie probabilities due to the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ phenomenon captured by the people wagering on the outcomes.
So who will win in the next four World Cup 2014 matches? Cortana foresees Brazil defeating Colombia, and Germany besting France on Saturday; it also predicts Argentina beating Belgium, and the Netherlands overtaking Costa Rica on Friday.