Economy Sports

What’s better than picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby? How about hitting the Derby superfecta? That’s what happened to Hope Reese of industry website TechRepublic after using an artificial intelligence program to make her Derby bet last year.

Reese spoke with me about the experiment and about a potential repeat at this year’s Derby. Listen to our conversation in the player above.

On the technology used in the experiment and how it works:

“It’s called Swarm Intelligence. They base it on a swarm in nature and it looks like a Ouija board. So people from all over the world can gather on their computers and they kind of push and pull this magnetic puck. And unlike a poll or crowdsourcing, it doesn’t take an average. It actually allows group members to influence each other while they make the decision.”

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Hope Reese

On placing a bet based on artificial intelligence:

“I was actually at the track on Derby day and I placed a $1 bet. And the swarm superfecta came in exactly correct, the top four horses in order. So, it turned a $1 bet into a $541 earning.”

On whether she thinks the program can repeat and pick a Derby superfecta this year:

“What happened last year was like, pretty spectacular, so I think … I don’t know if we should really guess that that is going to happen again. But what I can say is that I have a lot of confidence that the picks that come out of this expert swarm will be more accurate than any one of those experts or any of the other traditional methods of making a prediction.”

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for WFPL News.