During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Paul the Octopus, at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany, attracted global media headlines for correctly predicting the results of matches. Out of fourteen predictions, Paul chose Germany eleven times, and eventual winner Spain once. He only got two predictions wrong.
In the run-up to this World Cup, economists from Goldman Sachs, used machine learning to run 200,000 models, mining data on teams and individual players, to work out which factors contribute to match scores. They then simulated a million potential outcomes to calculate the likely progression of each team and ultimately predict the likely tournament winner.
Their prediction? Brazil to win in a Germany – Brazil final. Who knew Germany would go out in the Group stages? It only goes to show that, despite the rapid pace of advancement in artificial intelligence and machine learning, the unpredictable can happen, whatever history tells us about past performance.
AI is not the only technology being used in this competition. Video assistant referees, or VARs, made its World Cup debut analysing decisions from the touch-line. Consisting of one video assistant referee, three assistants, four replay operators and access to 33 camera feeds, the idea is that VARs will make critical, potentially game-changing decisions, easier for the referee.
Try telling that to Portugal after Iran’s controversial penalty in their final Group Stage game, or Australia after France’s controversial penalty decision against the Socceroos. France manager Didier Deschamps was at least refreshingly honest when he said, “I’m not going to complain about VAR today because it was in our favour.” In the end, despite the new technology, a human still has to exercise their judgement no matter how many camera angles they have to choose from.
The key takeaway from the World Cup? Technology can produce useful tools that can assist with decision making, and make processes much faster and more efficient. But it cannot do it alone – without proper management it can create as many arguments as it resolves. The same applies to investing – new technology must benefit and work in the best interests of the client. CONNECT by Crossbridge for example, was developed with industry-leading partners and providers.
All of these built-in features and tools make investing much more user-friendly and efficient. They put the client in charge of the investment process and empower them to make informed decisions. That’s why we’re determined to continue investing in machine learning and AI, to bring new tools to our investors.
But remember, selecting appropriate investments is not like picking the winner of the World Cup – it’s about long-term financial planning. There are times where you may want human experience. That’s why at Crossbridge Capital you are only ever a phone call away from talking to one of our experienced wealth advisers. AI and the human touch is a winning combination.
As to who will win the World Cup? In the Crossbridge offices around the world – Singapore, London and Monaco – we have over 20 nationalities represented and a divergence of views on what the outcome will be.
In football, as with financial markets, always expect, and plan, for the unexpected.
Enjoy the football and may the best human team win!
Charlie O’Flaherty is partner — head of digital strategy and distribution at Crossbridge Capital. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not the author’s company. This material is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell certain securities.