A quarter of the way through the NFL season, one team sits atop the AFC East, and it isn’t the defending champion New England Patriots. The Buffalo Bills are 3-1 and in prime position to add another win against the struggling Bengals. A hive mind of about 30 NFL fans is ready to back the Bills, picking them to win Sunday with relative ease.
The Bills and Bengals are two of the NFL’s most star-crossed franchises, but at least Cincinnati has had a recent run of success before this season’s tailspin. Buffalo, on the other hand, hasn’t made the playoffs in 17 years, the longest drought in the NFL. It’s still early, but victories over the likes of the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons are about as legit as it gets. The Bills might be real, and they might be good.
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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 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. For instance, the swarm went a perfect 7-0 in its most recommended picks for a recent English Premier League slate.
The hive mind is ready to reward Buffalo for its efforts, picking them to win with high confidence and 80 percent brainpower behind the pick. Most of the dissent was just pulling toward the low confidence pick for the Bills.
Cincinnati is actually favored by three points here, perhaps evidence that Las Vegas isn’t as behind the Bills as the swarm is. That apparently is enough to get the hive mind to think twice, at least a little, as here it’s just a low confidence pick for Buffalo — who can lose by two and still beat the spread, let alone win outright — with just 75 percent brainpower.
The game kicks off 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday on CBS.