Will the Thunder Beat the Jazz in the First Round? A.I. Predicts

After a monstrous comeback against the Utah Jazz at home on Wednesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder have extended the series to Game 6, which will take place at 10:30 p.m Eastern Friday in Salt Lake City. The Jazz have a chance to deny their higher-seeded opponents a spot in the final eight if they’re able to close out the series tonight.

Both teams ended the Western Conference season right in the middle of the top eight teams, with the Thunder barely inching past the Jazz. But this series has proven that hardly anything separates the two on the court. We could see this matchup extended to a seventh game in Oklahoma if OKC is able to pull off another victory.

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.

The swarm took a bit of time deciding who would move past this round, but chose the Thunder with low confidence in the end. OKC would need to pull off two consecutive wins if they want this prediction to become reality.

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 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

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