Microsoft's Cortana correctly predicts all final-16 World Cup matches

Cortana, the voice-activated personal assistant in Microsoft’s Windows Phone software, has correctly predicted all eight of the World Cup final 16 games.

The virtual assistant, which is similar to Siri on the iPhone, is currently level with Paul The Octopus, the psychic sea creature who correctly predicted the last eight matches of the 2010 World Cup in Germany, including the final, before his death later that year.

There are still eight games to play in this year’s Brazil World Cup, with the quarter-finals kicking off tomorrow with France vs Germany and Brazil vs Columbia.

Cortana relies on Microsoft’s Bing search engine to guess the winners of each match. A blog post written by the Bing team last month explains how Cortana predicts each game.

“For the tournament, our models evaluate the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie record in qualification matches and other international competitions and margin of victory in these contests, adjusted for location since home field advantage is a known bias.

“Further adjustments are made related to other factors which give one team advantages over another, such as home field (for Brazil) or proximity (South American teams), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other such factors. In addition, data obtained from prediction markets allows us to tune the win/lose/tie probabilities due to the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ phenomenon captured by the people wagering on the outcomes.”

As for the upcoming quarter finals, Cortana expects Germany to beat France, Brazil to beat Columbia, Argentina to beat Belgium and the Netherlands to win against Costa Rica.


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