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Swarm AI Correctly Predicts Kentucky Derby Superfecta, Turns $20 Into $11,000 (yahoo.com) 170

New "Swarm Intelligence" platform UNU from Unanimous A.I. made a bet on the Kentucky Derby this weekend and won big. The bet is called the Superfecta and it paid 540 to 1 odds. "Swarm Intelligence" allows groups to amplify their collective IQ beyond the capacity of individuals, something that the human species hasn't been able to do because of evolutionary restraints. Silicon Valley startup Unanimous A.I. set out to answer one question: Can humans swarm, and if so can we amplify our intelligence beyond the ability of individuals? Spoiler: yes we can. According to Yahoo, "Unanimous spent the last two years building a swarm intelligence platform called UNU that enables groups to get together as online swarms -- combing their thoughts, opinions, and intuitions in real-time to answer questions, make predictions, reach decisions, and even play games as a unified collective intelligence." Already, UNU has predicted the Oscars better than experts, and predicted the NCAA college bowl games with 70% accuracy. As for the Kentucky Derby, Hope Reese, reporter for Tech Republic and the Atlantic, challenged Unanimous A.I. to use UNU to predict the winners. The group used UNU to answer questions as a unified Swarm Intelligence, narrowing the field of 20 horses down to four winners. Then it was asked to order the winners into Win, Place, Show, and Fourth. Swarm Intelligence convened again a week later after the Derby announced the post positions of the horses -- one of the four picks was replaced by an alternate.
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Swarm AI Correctly Predicts Kentucky Derby Superfecta, Turns $20 Into $11,000

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  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @06:10AM (#52082205) Homepage

    How many other bets did they place on the Kentucky Derby?

    • by Cortexia ( 4572037 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @07:04AM (#52082323)
      That's the amazing thing... They placed ONE BET and it was done in response to a challenge by a reporter at TECH REPUBLIC, who published their pick in advance - ONE PICK. This is the article that Tech Republic published 2 days before the race: http://www.techrepublic.com/ar... [techrepublic.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        What is so amazing? Nyquist had 2-1 odds of winning, 5-1 for the runner up and 1-10 for third. They were predicted by the odds makers to be the top 3 horses! If you picked the horses with the best odds on every race you would "win" more than you would "lose". Common sense. Christ.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @07:59AM (#52082515)

          Based on your "common sense" assertion, everyone should win at the track every time by simply using common sense.

          As it turns out, most people lose, most of the time. Why do you suppose that is?

          Superperfecta in a 20 horse race is 116,000:1 It's very rare that anyone wins the superperfecta. But, by your assessment, it's common sense to be able to pick the winner. I'm guessing you're a very wealthy man?

          • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @08:19AM (#52082585) Journal
            Yes. Even if there's something to this swarm intelligence and UNU's ability to reckon it, horse race betting is self-correcting.

            If they get the Preakness correct, there will be so many bets on their prediction that the payoff will drop precipitously.

            • by rockout ( 1039072 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @10:52AM (#52083331)

              Everyone is missing the fact that the top four horses to finish were 2-1, 5-1, 10-1, and 12-1, respectively, before the race. They were the four lowest-payout (or likeliest to win, however you want to look at it) horses in the field. Yes, you could pick the top four favorites in every race to finish 1, 2, 3, 4 in that order every time (and I suspect this fake AI would do exactly that, a lot). The crazy thing is that in this Kentucky Derby, that's exactly how the top four came in. That's extremely rare.

              Also, 540-1 for a superfecta payout is really low - again, due to the fact that the four favorites came in, in order. Make this same bet on every race and over time, you would lose money just like everybody else.

          • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @09:09AM (#52082783)

            The odds of winning the Superfecta are certainly not 116,000:1. If that were the actual odds anyone would be insane to place such a bet when the payout is only $542. Those odds would be true ONLY if it were equally likely for every hose to finish in any given position. Clearly that is not true, or this AI would not have 'picked' a winner, it would just have gotten lucky with a RNG.

            I don't know what the Superfecta pool was, but it was probably at least a half a million, so there are probably around 1000 other winners just for this race.

            This program picked ONE horse race winner (so far). A whole lot of people can pick ONE winner (especially when picking favorites, which is what this did), but it is rare to be able to CONSISTENTLY do that, which is why most people lose.

            • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

              If that were the actual odds anyone would be insane to place such a bet when the payout is only $542.

              Strikes me as a feature of gambling in general. The payouts, when they come, are meagre compared to the actual probabilities. I rarely see odds that are in any way enticing, which I guess is why I never gamble.

              • Yes. That is why even when playing the most "winning" strategy you will lose money in the long term unless you get very lucky.
            • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

              it is rare to be able to CONSISTENTLY do that, which is why most people lose

              If they stop now, they'll be able to claim they won 100% of the time :)

          • No they shouldn't. I said they should "win" most of the time. If you had this "AI" always bet the "top 3" horses it would "win" more than someone who bet the "bottom 3" horses. I guess common sense isn't very common. That is why they have odds in the first place.
            • Right, I think the idiots in this thread misunderstood you and thought you meant "win money" when what you meant was "pick the winners" more than someone who bet the bottom 3. It amazes me that there's this many people reading and posting on Slashdot that don't understand basic math when it comes to odds and gambling. But then again, I guess that's why Vegas exists in the first place.
          • One superfecta win proves nothing. If it's so great then try running it on 30 or 40 races and publish the results, then i'll believe their work. I'm betting there is too much unknowable information in horse racing for it to work reliably.
            • And if it DID work, why would they make it public at all? They would make billions off of betting and the stock market.
              • by es330td ( 964170 )
                These people have not learned from history. IIRC, Fisher Black and Myron Scholes who came up with the Black-Scholes option pricing model took it first to Goldman Sachs and then went public with a published paper to win the Nobel Prize.
        • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
          You still have to pick the top 4 finishers, in order.

          If it's that easy, place a $2 bet on the next big race using the odds.

          Odds makers are not dumb. If a superfecta pays 700 to 1, you can be damn sure it's very difficult to get right.
          • I didn't say it was easy. I am amazed that so many people don't understand what I am saying. You have a better chance of "winning" if you pick the top 4 horses based on the odds than if you picked the worst 4 horses based on the odds. This program got lucky but you are "more lucky" using that strategy. They picked the horses most likely to win, in the order they were most likely to place in. If you used that strategy you would "win" more than you would "lose" but you wouldn't likely make money in the long t
            • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

              So basically their luck was that, in this particular exceptional case, the odds makers were incredibly dumb?

              • No, the odds makers were fine. The AI just got "lucky" in this race by playing the most likely winners. Odds makers don't care if any particular individual bet wins. They look at the aggregates. If the AI used that strategy over many horse races it would lose money due to the odds. So many stupid people here.
                • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

                  Odds makers give worse odds for more likely winners, they do not give every similar type of bet the same odds. It's not roulette.

                  The odds makers gave this particular bet odds of 540 to 1, meaning the odds makers (who know a hell of a lot better then any of us, because their livelyhood depends on it) thought the chance of this particular combination of winners being correct would be less than 1 in 540. If they would have bet on a less likely combination, it would have been more amazing if they would have won

                  • You are dumb. I am saying I don't have a winning system and neither does this "AI". My "system" would lose money in the long term. Christ, you are stupid. Go read it again.
                    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                      There seems to be a real lack of mathematics skills in this thread. Maybe if you stated it, again, while trying to make it less a word problem - they'll finally get it?

                      What really baffles me was the reply to you that insinuated the odds makers were off. Umm... Why no, no they were not off. They were exactly right, from the looks of things.

                      I did own an office right across a giant parking lot from an off-track betting place. I spent a lot of time studying, shall we say, the horses. I actually did rather well

                  • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

                    The ONLY thing odds of 540:1 means is that for every $1 bet on THIS outcome, $540 was bet on ALL OTHER POSSIBLE outcomes. Since there are literally THOUSANDS of other possible outcomes, 540:1 is actually VERY GOOD odds, and means this was the FAVORITE outcome.

                  • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
                    Do you actually think he's saying he has any kind of system? He's saying that if you back the favourites every time, like this thing did, you'll lose money. Completely fucking correct.
              • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @10:19AM (#52083119)

                There are no 'odds makers' involved. This is parimutuel betting. The odds are determined solely by how many people are betting on a given outcome versus all the other outcomes. In other words, the 'odds' are determined by 'swarm intelligence', and have been for centuries. This is not something new.

                If you want to use 'swarm intellegence' to place a bet, all you have to do is look at the current odds. Whatever has the lowest odds the 'swarm' has determined is the likely winner. I can't figure out what this great AI has supposedly done. Use 'swarm intelligence' to determine a likely outcome? That is called betting the favorites, and requires zero intelligence.

          • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

            You're missing the point. For THIS RACE, the horses came in in the order the betting predicted. Quite often, they don't. EVERYONE who bet the Superfecta by picking the favorites won (there were probably at least 1000 winners). Are they all super-geniuses at picking races? No, most of them are just people who went with the favorites and got lucky, just like this AI.

            When this thing starts picking AGAINST the favorites, and consistently winning, then there will be something to talk about, Picking the fav

            • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

              So, effectively what you are saying is that this was not a good test of swarm intelligence because the outcome did not provide any extraordinary proof of extra intelligence being accessed by the "swarm". They did get a correct bet, but that was only one instance, and it was not a particularly low probability compared to all possible probabilities that could have existed for that kind of bet.

              However, it doesn't mean that the swarm intelligence doesn't exist, it just means that there is only one data point,

              • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

                The thing is, there is absolutely NOTHING 'new' about this. The odds of every single horse race over the last centuries has been determined by 'the swarm'. The first automatic totalisator to calculate and display the odds was installed in 1913.

                The only question this thing could possibly answer is 'is betting favorites a winning strategy'? There are literally thousands of race results available that could be looked at to determine the answer to that. That does not require any kind of AI, it requires a di

                • by porges ( 58715 )

                  What's fascinating in general is that "horses run to their odds"; that is, at all levels, for all bets, the swarm is, in the long run, correct.

                  Except for the "favorites/longshot bias", which is that people overbet long shots and underbet favorites, because they want a big payout.

        • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @10:08AM (#52083049) Homepage Journal

          >Nyquist had 2-1 odds of winning.
          That's why Ts must be greater than or equal to twice the bandwidth to avoid aliasing.

          • >Nyquist had 2-1 odds of winning.
            That's why Ts must be greater than or equal to twice the bandwidth to avoid aliasing.

            Arse. 1/Ts. Where's the edit function?

        • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

          They were predicted by the odds makers to be the top 3 horses! If you picked the horses with the best odds on every race you would "win" more than you would "lose". Common sense. Christ.

          Makes you wonder why the oddsmakers paid out 540:1 for that common sense. Maybe the oddsmakers don't understand odds, and the entire gambling industry is just a bunch of incompetent rubes, waiting for someone with common sense and a desire for money to come along and clean the suckers out.

          Yep, I bet that's the situation.

          • Wow, another stupid person. Go reread my post. There is a reason the payout was 540:1 and not 10,000,000:1.
          • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

            You don't know how parimutuel betting works. There are no 'odds makers' to 'decide' anything. The odds are determined purely by how much money was bet on a particular outcome vs all other outcomes. Let's say there was a total of $600K spent on Superfecta betting. The 'house' (track) takes a cut of that - that is their only interest in the betting, they have no stake in the outcome at all. So say they take 10%, leaving $540K. The race is run, and at the end there are 1000 $1 winning tickets. Every tic

        • by jandrese ( 485 )
          Isn't it pretty rare for the oddsmakers to get it so right? If this "Swarm AI" can repeat its performance on the Preakness and Belmont then I'll start to pay attention. Thus far we don't have enough data to separate and entirely new paradigm of cognition with dumb luck.
      • That's the amazing thing...

        They placed ONE BET and it was done in response to a challenge by a reporter at TECH REPUBLIC, who published their pick in advance - ONE PICK.

        This is the article that Tech Republic published 2 days before the race:

        http://www.techrepublic.com/ar... [techrepublic.com]

        No, what's really amazing is that this is your first post as a Slashdot user and that all your posts are only discussing this particular topic. Another AMAZING thing is that you're calling a blogger on Tech Republic an actual reporter. Yeah, that's a good one.

        Now never mind that you can edit your blog on Tech Republic anytime you want without changing the publishing date, or that this Yahoo quote is completely made up:

        According to Yahoo, "Unanimous spent the last two years building a swarm intelligence platform called UNU that enables groups to get together as online swarms -- combing their thoughts, opinions, and intuitions in real-time to answer questions, make predictions, reach decisions, and even play games as a unified collective intelligence."

        Who is this "Unanimous" anyway? Is that a play on words with "Anonymous"? Seriously?

        And wh

    • And also, in the last couple of years, how much did they bet, how much did they win, sum( wins ) - sum( bets )?
    • by jools33 ( 252092 )

      about 542

  • by misnohmer ( 1636461 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @06:17AM (#52082221)

    One win proves absolutely nothing. Show a consistent string of wins that is otherwise statistically improbable, then actually put money into the bets (rather than theoretical betting), then you have some proof. Win only 10% of the 540 to 1 payouts and you have a money machine.

    • by asylumx ( 881307 )

      Even a broken clock is right twice a day

      Unless it's slow by a minute, then it's wrong all day.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        If it keeps perfect time but is just set a minute slow, it will always be wrong.

        If it's slow because it loses time, it will eventually wrap around and be right. Now, it might take a very long time, but it will eventually be right.

      • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

        Even a broken clock is right twice a day

        Unless it's slow by a minute, then it's wrong all day.

        If it's slow by a minute, it's not broken,

        broken
        adjective
        having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order

      • Even a broken clock is right twice a day

        Unless it's slow by a minute, then it's wrong all day.

        That's why the phrase is "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day", at least it is where I live

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Or if it's a digital clock.

        Which is why I prefer, "Even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while." Though, I've heard some variations, such as, "Even a blind man hits the hole once in a while."

    • If this platform could reliably make bets such as this then the last thing they'd be doing is telling everyone about it. They'd use the platform to make billions for themselves betting. Once they were set for life maybe they'd share the technology.
      • Exactly. The same logic can be applied to "Financial Advisors". If they knew anything they wouldn't be working as a Financial Advisor making $200k a year.
        • by es330td ( 964170 )
          You couldn't be more wrong. Financial advisors are not "stock pickers." Advisors help people to plan their lives financially by guiding a person to know the best way to apply their resources to reach their goals. A true financial advisor is akin to an architect or engineer who uses a complex set of tools to help a person solve a problem they themselves cannot solve.
  • by SafPlusPlus ( 1616367 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @06:21AM (#52082223)
    Judging from skimming the links it looks to me like it's more of a social platform for collections of people to come to a conclusion. So instead of what is generally considered A.I. this would be more aptly called C.I. (as in, Collective Intelligence).
  • *cough* no. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2016 @06:26AM (#52082235) Homepage

    It always amazes me how profoundly bad very smart people can be at basic statistics. Granted it's usually not intuitive but it can be learned.

    • It always amazes me how profoundly bad very smart people can be at basic statistics. Granted it's usually not intuitive but it can be learned.

      Probably...

    • And since when has picking horses been a test of intelligence? I'd like to see how the swarm goes at Beal's conjecture.
  • They could have made a million if thet were that confident.

  • bookmakers create and change odds based on the bets being placed, so that they themselves will not take any loses. that is odds are themselves the predictions of all who have paced bets. iow it is a form of collective intelligence.

    whole concept of predictive markets is based on harnessing the collective intelligence/information of those who are willing to take risk on a event outcome ,to predict probability of various out comes of events https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    how is this so called "swarm intelligence" different?

    • Exactly. Just another company trying to get VC money using the current "A.I." hype machine.
  • "Swarm Intelligence" allows groups to amplify their collective IQ beyond the capacity of individuals, something that the human species hasn't been able to do because of evolutionary restraints.

    Uh, really? Humans have been relying on "collective intelligence" for thousands and thousands of years.

  • Big deal. I did too and I know nothing about horse racing. The top three were the ones with the best odds of winning according to the bookmakers. In general if you pick the participants with the "best odds" you will "win". For example if you pick Germany over Iceland in soccer you will "win" almost 100% of the time.
  • I wonder how many AIs got it wrong and did not get the story. It this is one in 540?
  • "Swarm Intelligence" allows groups to amplify their collective IQ beyond the capacity of individuals, something that the human species hasn't been able to do because of evolutionary restraints.

    Because our brains is not an immense colony of cooperating neurons? Each cell is an organism. Humans are a superorganism.

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