March Madness: Will Villanova Make the Sweet Sixteen? A.I. Predicts

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The Villanova Wildcats were in no danger of a history-making upset against the 16 seed Radford Highlanders. But they now face a stiffer test as they look to make the Sweet Sixteen.

Top-seeded Villanova must beat a nine-seed Alabama Crimson Tide squad that frequently relies on the heroics of Collin Sexton. Villanova busted plenty of brackets last years with its unexpected loss in the second round, and it looks to avoid that kind of slip-up here.

To predict the result of this and other games, Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the bracket. About 50 college basketball 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.

Unanimous A.I.

Picking before the tournament, the hive mind figured the Virginia Tech Hokies would defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide. But it’s hard to see that mattering too much when the swarm predicts Villanova will win with high confidence and 92 percent brainpower. The difference between the eight and nine seeds would need to be immense to undermine that pick.

Read more from Inverse: The Perfect NCAA Bracket Is A.I.’s Biggest Sports Challenge Yet

Unanimous A.I. has made some scarily accurate predictions in the past using swarm intelligence, as our previous article explains. For instance, the swarm picked this year’s Oscar winners with 94 percent accuracy. Here’s Unanimous A.I. founder Louis Rosenberg explaining swarm intelligence at a recent TEDx Talk.

The game tips off Saturday at 12:10 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

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