Will the Cavs Beat the Pacers in the First Round? AI Predicts

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Having lost the 2017 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers are undoubtedly set on redemption this time around. However, their first test comes in the form of the Indiana Pacers. The Cavs have a chance to close out this series during Game 6 at 8 p.m. Friday in Indianapolis. But the Pacers have given their star-studded opponents a run for their money.

The Cavs ended the season right in the middle of the top eight of the Eastern Conference, with the Pacers directly underneath them. Both teams had a markedly similar season, making this close series all the more intense. If the Pacers are able to clench the win on Friday they’d take this matchup to a seventh game, which would take place in Cleveland.

To predict the result of this and other games, San Francisco technology firm Unanimous A.I. used what’s known as swarm intelligence to forecast the playoffs. Forty-three NBA basketball fans worked together as a hive mind to predict the outcome of the Raptors vs. Wizards series. 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 triggered a psychological response. They readjusted their decision-making, building a consensus.

Unanimous A.I.

The swarm didn’t take long to come to a conclusion with the majority of participants settling on Cleveland as the likely winners of this series. But even with the hive mind giving the W to the Cavs with high confidence, the Pacers have shown they are capable of kicking it into high gear.

Swarm participants were also asked to predict how many games each series would last and assigned a hypothetical, virtual dollar wager to add on a final layer of conviction for each forecast. Their collective choices are displayed below.

Unanimous A.I.

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 Friday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

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