Despite 540-to-1 odds, a swarm AI system correctly predicted the Kentucky Derby ‘superfecta’

Kentucky Derby prediction
Bill Brine / Flickr

If two minds are better than one, then three minds are better than two, four minds are better than three, and so on. That’s the logic behind swarm intelligence – a form of crowdsourcing inspired by nature. You can witness the power of swarms throughout the animal kingdom: birds swarm to evade predators, and ants swarm to remove debris or defend their nest. But swarms aren’t used by humans because we haven’t evolved to leverage them – until now.

A startup called Unanimous AI has developed an insect swarm-inspired system, in which individuals within a group influence each other’s decision making. In theory, a swarm makes better choices than an individual. Unanimous AI’s system, UNU, seems to depict this in practice as well.

Challenged by a TechRepublic journalist, Unanimous AI asked 20 knowledgable Kentucky Derby fans to use the startup’s swarm intelligence program to predict the Derby’s top four finishers. The odds of correctly predicting the top four finishers, in order –known as a superfecta– were 540 to 1. That means a $100 superfecta bet would pay out $54,000. None of Churchill Downs Racetrack’s experts put the correct horse first, but the UNU users did.

“Personally, I was speechless,” Unanimous AI CEO, Louis Rosenberg, said in a press release. “We’ve been blown away by how smart UNU has been in prior predictions, but when the horses crossed the line I almost didn’t believe it… And here’s the amazing thing – while the Swarm AI got the picks perfect, not a single individual who participated in the swarm got the picks right on their own – not one.” 

This isn’t the first time Unanimous AI’s users have swarmed together to outperform experts – since Rosenberg founded the startup in 2014, the system has correctly predicted Super Bowl and Oscar winners as well. Last year, seven non-expert UNU users correctly predicted 11 out of 15 Oscar category winners. The swarm’s 73 percent accuracy topped the New York Times’ experts by 18 percent.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: inflatable backpacks and robotic submarines

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? Here are the best drones on the market right now

To help you navigate the increasingly large and ever-changing landscape of consumer UAVs, here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now
Social Media

How to use Adobe Spark Post to spice up your social media images

Images are proven to get more likes than plain text -- but only if those images are good. Adobe Spark post is an AI-powered design program for non-designers. Here's how to use it to take your social media feeds to the next level.
Cars

Apple Car may make its debut in the middle of the next decade

Apple likely won't become a full-fledged manufacturer like General Motors or Ford, but the tech giant is diving into the auto industry pool. Here's everything we know about the company's automotive efforts.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk’s Boring Company wants to dig a tunnel to Dodger Stadium

Elon Musk's Boring Company wants to build a high-speed transportation tunnel connecting Dodger Stadium to a nearby Metro station. The system would run 150-mph passenger pods between the stadium and a terminus to the west.
Emerging Tech

Watch as a ‘lifeguard drone’ rescues a swimmer struggling at sea

These days, drones are finding a range of roles in a myriad of fields. Lifeguards, for example, are making use of the drone's ability to quickly deploy flotation devices while also offering an eye in the sky to survey the scene.
Computing

Art-inspired face blurring can obscure identity without losing humanity

Researchers have developed an AI-generated anonymity system that “paints” over video frames, using inspiration from masters like Picasso and Van Gogh to reimagine a person’s appearance. The goal is to minimize outer resemblance but…
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Experiment suggests that the best robot bosses could be jerks

Researchers have been investigating how future robot bosses can coax the most productivity out of us flesh-and-blood employees. The sad answer? Quite possibly by behaving like jerks.
Emerging Tech

VR experience shows caregivers what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s disease

Los Angeles-based VR startup Embodied Labs has developed a virtual experience that puts users in the shoes of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia in the U.S.
Emerging Tech

Welcome to the uncanny valley: This robot head shows lifelike expressions

SEER is a robot head that is capable of recognizing the facial expressions of the people that it interacts with, and then mirroring their same expression back at them. Check it out.
Computing

Crypto-intrigued? Here's how to buy Bitcoin for the first time

Is it time to purchase your first Bitcoin investment? If you're ready to get involved in the cryptocurrency, we'll walk you through how to pick an exchange, how to choose the right wallet, and how to buy Bitcoin the safe way!
Emerging Tech

6 flying cars that you might actually be able to own (and fly) in your lifetime

Just like cellphones used to be only for the rich, soon taking a personal flying machine to work is going to be a part of everyday life. Here are six pieces of tech making that possible.
Emerging Tech

Spectacular twisting tower aims to become Australia’s tallest building

A spectacular twisting structure bedecked with trees and plants is aiming to become Australia's tallest building. The "Green Spine" was recently announced as the winner of an international design competition.