Baidu, the biggest search engine in China, has joined the World Cup prediction fever after news that Cortana, the artificial intelligence digital assistant of Microsoft, upstaged known animal oracles of the soccer tournament such as Nelly, the Elephant, and Big Head, the Loggerhead Turtle.
On Thursday, Baidu claimed that its World Cup prediction page that supports both English and Chinese languages had higher accuracy rate in picking the winner compared to Cortana's 58.33 per cent and Bing's 56.25 per cent.
Zhang Tong, head of the Beijing Big Data Lab of Baidu, said that it analysed five factors, namely the team's strength, home court advantage, recent game performance, overall World Cup performance and bookmaker odds.
"We aggregate asking these five dimensions from a wide variety of heterogeneous data sources on the Internet. We then use a machine learning model specially designed by our research scientists to aggregate the data and make predictions," he added.
But while it apparently picked the right winning team for the Germany-Brazil match, Baidu's big data failed to forecast the huge margin of 7-1 score since its forecast is that the German team would win by a slim 49:51 margin of certainty. Likewise, the same observation was made by Techinasia for the Argentina-The Netherlands game of 43:57.
For Sunday's finals match, Baidu forecasts a 55:45 win for Germany. A Germany win would then be capitalised by religious people as God hearing the prayers of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI versus the prayers of Pope Francis who is rooting for the Argentinean team.
A writer of IBTimes UK asked Cortana who would win on Sunday, and the digital assistant's reply was a tentative "Probably Germany. But you never know what can happen in the beautiful game." Pressed further, the assistant pointed out, "Even Bing isn't sure, but maybe if you cheer really hard for Germany you can tip the scales."
When Nelly, the pachyderm, was asked who is going to lose, the animal kicked the ball into the goal of Argentina. Here's the video.