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Computers (and some PEOPLE) Can Predict the Future

Some people can predict the future, while other people only THINK they can (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show and you can meet Marla Frees IN PERSON at our Dreamland Festival). The best way to tell the difference is by checking to see if the predictions come true.

Radio hosts, newspaper columnists and TV talking heads build followings by making bold, confident predictions about politics and the economy. But their predictions are rarely analyzed for accuracy. Now researchers have analyzed the predictions of 26 of these people. Their findings? While some predictions are obviously going to come true, most of them are as accurate as they would have been by just flipping a coin. Perhaps predictions can be made more accurate if we apply mathematics to them, and that means using computers.

A mathematical formula (the development of which was funded by Google) that gives computers the ability to anticipate the future has been developed by computer scientists and economists at Tel Aviv University. Kurzweil.com reports that Google wants to be able predict things like a bidding war on an online auction site, a sudden spike of traffic to a media website, or demand for an online product.

In Technology Review, Jim Giles reports that a software company Quid claims that it can make good guesses about what the next big thing will be. It does this by analyzing a store of data on 35,000 existing companies, ideas, and research, including how much investment a company is attracting and how many patents they have filed. 



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