NFC West rivals face off in the Bay Area on Thursday when the Los Angeles Rams head up Interstate 5 to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are looking for every encouraging sign they can find in rebuilding years, with the 49ers hoping to notch their first win of the season. A hive mind of more than 30 NFL fans aren’t feeling great about their chances, picking the Rams to emerge victorious in the Thursday night game.

The Rams looked seriously ahead of schedule in the opening week when they crushed the Indianapolis Colts 46-9. A tough loss to Washington at home last week made it clear there’s still plenty of work to be done, especially on defense. For the 49ers, a narrow 12-9 loss to the Seahawks last week offered some cause for optimism, but this is very much a work in progress.

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The teams last met on Christmas Eve.

To predict the result of this and other games, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the week’s slate. More than 40 NFL fans worked together as a hive mind to make picks. As you can see in the animation below, each participant controlled a little golden magnet and used it to drag the puck toward the answer they thought was the most likely outcome. As the users saw the puck move toward a particular outcome, it triggers a psychological response. They readjust their decision-making, building toward a consensus. Here’s how Unanimous A.I. founder Lloyd Rosenberg explaining swarm intelligence at a recent TEDx Talk.

Unanimous A.I. has made some scarily accurate predictions in the past using swarm intelligence, as our previous article explains.

The swarm likes the road team here, but it’s not feeling great about the pick. The hive mind only put low confidence behind their Rams prediction, with a relatively low 78 percent of the collective brainpower behind it. This looks a little better though when you see where a lot of the other magnets were clustered — it looks like the swarm was mostly debating between picking the Rams with high or low confidence. Maybe just call this a medium confidence pick for the Rams.

Leaving aside that little flourish of a loop at the end there, it again looks like the swarm likes the Rams to win against the spread — which in this case is any margin of a field goal or more — with not too much of the collective thinking the 49ers can pull the upset or keep this within two points.

The game kicks off Thursday at 8:25 p.m. on the NFL Network.


If you liked this article, check out this video of Bob Ross (and his “happy little trees”) as seen through Google’s DeepDream A.I. program.