The singularity is coming for us, day by creeping day. Artificial intelligence is starting to write about cycling. It is starting to create pictures of cycling. And now, it is starting to predict the results of races that haven’t even happened yet.
There are humans involved at some point – there always are, before the end of everything. In this case, it is a data and analytics consultancy called Decision Inc., Australia. The humans developed the modelling, fed it to their machine learning tool, let it marinate for a bit [that may be creative license] and then, the magic happened.
“Machine Learning is a form of Artificial Intelligence which uses advanced data analytics [to] solve complex issues,” explained Decision Inc, Australia CEO, Aiden Heke. “It uses algorithms to best imitate how humans solve problems or predict outcomes.”
“Since the technology has evolved so much over the past few decades, we thought: why not use it to predict the outcome of the UCI World Championships?”
First up, the women’s road race:
A caveat – the Machines were crunching their numbers before Annemiek van Vleuten crashed out of the mixed team time trial, putting her start at risk. Also, apparently The Machines don’t rate Grace Brown as a top 10 favourite. But all that aside? Those are certainly some credible names.
To the men:
Again, some curiosities in here for me. The podium seems credible, but I think Van der Poel is a bit more of a dark horse than this is letting on. Pogačar seems low; Almeida seems high. I’m also furious about the Juraj Sagan erasure, but that is a me thing, not a you thing, and certainly not an AI thing.
Decision Inc. is likening their cycling foray to Deep Blue, an early machine learning venture from the mid-1990s that famously vanquished chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. “It’s why we’re putting it to the test, to see just how far it’s come,” said Decision Inc. CEO Aiden Heke. “We’re keen for everyone who fancies themselves as a bit of an expert on cycling to see if they can win where Kasparov couldn’t: against the Machine.”
If you want to show that you know more about this weekend’s cycling than a series of computer calculations, you can head to the company’s Instagram account where you could win some signed cycling goodies.
Or, you can just wade into the comments here and tell us who your pick is. That’d be fun too.