A Silicon Valley company has developed an AI-based predictor which, according to a new study, can outperform Las Vegas betting markets when it comes to accurately forecasting outcomes in sports fixtures


An AI-powered predictor can outperform Las Vegas betting markets when it comes to forecasting sports results over a prolonged period, a study published today has shown.

The Swarm AI programme, developed by Silicon Valley‘s Unanimous AI, was pitted against Vegas oddsmakers in generating predictions for 200 National Hockey League (NHL) games over a 20-week stint during the 2017/18 season.

The AI bot – which used an algorithm to assess the predictions of about 30 ordinary sports fans and the varying degrees of certainty each person had for individual matches to create a consensus – was accurate in forecasting 61% of winners.

In contrast, the Vegas data-driven formula recorded 55% accuracy across the same games.

Gregg Willcox, manager of research and revelopment at Unanimous AI and co-author of a report on the research, said: “The results of this study are extremely promising.

“And while it’s fun to predict sports, we are currently applying the same techniques to a wide variety of other domains, including financial forecasting, business forecasting, and medical diagnosis, all with positive results.”

ai-powered predictor
Manager of research and development at Unanimous AI Gregg Willcox

AI-powered predictor beats the house

Unanimous AI’s system used a simulated wagering protocol that places bets according to informed predictions, which yielded a 22% return on investment across the 200 games.

It also includes a “pick of the week” feature that chooses one bet per week to place money on, which achieved 85% accuracy and saw a 170% return.

These results are detailed in the company’s Artificial Swarm Intelligence versus Vegas Betting Markets paper.

The Swarm AI programme uses a combination of real-time human input and AI algorithms, which are reportedly modelled on swarms of animals in nature.

For this particular study, it collected data from between 25 and 35 sports fans in real time, and used its AI capabilities to maximise their collective knowledge and gut instinct.

Unanimous AI claims it has the potential to accurately forecast outcomes in more than just sport, with politics being financial markets being possible applications.

Swarm Intelligence, the science behind the Swarm AI system, operates using the same principal as bird flocks, bee swarms and fish schools – that the group is smarter and more informed than the individual.

Based in San Francisco, Unanimous AI claims to have a history of outperforming traditional AI systems as well as human experts in many high-profile challenges using its technology.