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  • Emmanuel Ph. Jansa

What if Artificial Intelligence predicted sports victories with high accuracy?

We recently ran a test. What if we feed our AI engine with all available statistics of past football (for our American readers: soccer) matches, teams, and players data, e.g. ball ownership, scores, fouls,... Would we be able to predict the winner of the 2018 FIFA World Cup?

Well, our AI engine picked France as the most likely winner! We were shocked. What would this mean for sports, the sports betting markets, etc...?

To date we did not run further tests. But what if football and other sports became perfectly predictable? What would that mean? It would revolutionise betting, as the odds would be set by a market that is as well informed as it could get. It would also bring transparency to market prices of players, and last but not least, it would allow scenario building, where teams could be virtually composed in different ways, and then be tested by an Artificial Intelligence for performance prediction.

As games would become more predictable, the fun in sports would be reduced. Surprises would become less frequent, and therefore games would become more boring. Unless the rules were tweaked to make outcomes more random again, everyone would lose. Because we believe that with an increase in predictability, interest in the games will decrease.

But if you try making an outcome unpredictable to an Artificial Intelligence, the game must come close to a lottery. Either way, fun will be the victim. Sports markets will be deeply disrupted. We are curious to see how.

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