Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, has successfully predicted the outcome of every match of this year's World Cup elimination round.
This means Cortana is on track to correctly predict more World Cup wins than Paul the Octopus. The supposedly psychic sea creature, 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.
For its part, Cortana has correctly called the final results of all eight matches that have been played in the 2014 tournament's elimination round, including Team USA's heartbreaking loss to Belgium on Tuesday. As of Wednesday night, there are eight games remaining in this year's World Cup.
Marcus Ash, Microsoft's program manager for Cortana, first called attention to the assistant's winning streak on Twitter, prior to the USA-Belgium game.
Another close game. #Cortana 7 - 0.— Marcus Ash (@marcusash) July 1, 2014
Cortana relies on Microsoft's Bing search engine to power its predictions. Bing was updated at the start of the tournament to support World Cup predictions. Previously, Bing's prediction engine forecasted outcomes for reality-TV shows, including The Voice,Dancing With The Stars and American Idol.
Bing explained how its comes up with its World Cup predictions, which are considerably more complicated, in a blog post last month:
For the tournament, our 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 what does Cortana foresee for the next four matches? Microsoft's Siri-like assistant predicts Brazil defeating Colombia, and Germany besting France on Saturday; it also predicts Argentina beating Belgium, and the Netherlands overtaking Costa Rica on Friday. Should its predictions continue to hold up over the quarter-finals, Cortana will surpass Paul the Octopus' record, with four matches left in the World Cup.
Paul the Octopus correctly predicted the outcomes of seven World Cup matches his home country of Germany played during the 2010 World Cup, as well as Spain's victory over the Netherlands in the final match. Sadly, Paul died soon after the 2010 tournament concluded.
Cortana will ship with Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update, slated for later this month. Until then, you can keep tabs on Cortana's predictions over at Bing.
Tags: APPS AND SOFTWARE, APPS-AND-SOFTWARE, BING, CORTANA, Microsoft, Tech, WINDOWS PHONE, WINDOWS PHONE 8.1, World Cup