Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant for Windows Phone correctly predicted Germany as World Cup winners, completing a winning streak which stretched from the second round to the final.
Cortana - similar to Siri on the iPhone - predicted that Germany would beat Argentina, having correctly guessed the winners of all eight last-16 matches, all four quarterfinals, both semifinals and the final.
Germany beat Argentina 1-0 thanks to a goal scored by Mario Götze in the 23rd minute of extra time.
The virtual assistant, named after an artificial intelligence character in the Halo video game series, overtook Paul The Octopus earlier in the tournament. The apparently psychic sea creature correctly predicted eight matches in the 2010 World Cup in Germany, including the final.
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.”