Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers shouldn’t be anything special. The Eagles are a lead-leaguing 6-1, while the 49ers are winless through seven games. A hive mind of about 35 NFL fans predicts the Eagles will win easily… but just for the sake of argument, what if they don’t?
Let’s say, ridiculous as it sounds, the 49ers somehow manage to pull off the upset — in Philadelphia, no less! — and beat the Eagles for their first win. The Eagles, whose only loss has been to the frequently dominant Kansas City Chiefs, would lose to the 49ers, who just lost 40-10 to a Dallas Cowboys team that has been mostly just mediocre. For that to happen, this game would have to tap into levels of stupidity we rarely get to witness in the NFL. It’s an amazing thought, frankly.
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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 Louis 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 swarm has no doubt the Eagles will win here, picking them with high confidence and 91 percent brainpower behind the pick.
The addition of a mammoth 13-point spread is enough to make the hive mind hesitate, with a decent chunk pulling for San Francisco to keep it within that big margin. But the swarm does ultimately pick Philly to cover, albeit with low confidence and just 71 percent brainpower.
The game kicks off 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday on Fox.