What Role Could AI Play in Predicting Sporting Outcomes?

No matter what you may do for a living, the creeping advance of artificial intelligence into our everyday life would have at some point, had you questioning what the future looks like and perhaps more importantly, whether you are likely to feature in it. In short, the more sophisticated AI technology becomes, the more likely it is to be deeply embedded in almost every industry worldwide.

One industry in particular where there is a wide-ranging discussion going on about the role of AI is the sports industry and the possibility of predicting the right result. Specifically, how the emergence of chatbots like ChatGPT, OpenAI, Google AI, Microsoft AI, IBM Watson, and Amazon AI could help give punters the inside track on which way to bet. 

What does the future look like for the sports betting industry in a world driven by AI and the latest tech? To find the answer, let’s begin by going back to the mid-1990s.

Could AI provide all the answers as to who might win a match?

Just before the arrival of Netflix in 1997 and the popular phenomenon of TV on the internet, CBS released a show called Early Edition which stared Kyle Chandler who played a man called Gary Hobson. In this show, Hobson mysteriously receives each Chicago Sun-Times newspaper the day before it is published.

With this information of what will happen a day in advance, Hobson essentially begins trying to stop bad events from happening by being in the right place at the right time.

It is a virtuous decision to make considering that Hobson also receives the daily lottery numbers the day before they are drawn. Instead, he focuses on doing good and passes up the millions that he could win.

Now, fast forward to 2023, and the question is: are we all about to begin living Hobson’s envied existence by having predetermined information handed to us by AI?

AI is not a new development in the sports betting industry

AI already plays a key role in the sports betting industry and has done so for well over a decade. Take a company like Stats Perform that is behind the entertaining OptaJoe soccer tweets, all the eye-opening information they regularly dish out has been influenced by computer vision and AI modeling with a touch of human annotation.

For instance, whenever you see mindblowing data on tackles, possession, corners, and shots on goal, keep in mind that this has been generated by AI modeling. Crucially, this wealth of information still hasn’t made it possible to successfully predict what might happen in a match.

Indeed, billions of AI-generated statistics are available for us to peruse over in every sport, and while they might assist in helping us make an informed decision, they don’t guarantee success on account of the fact that sport is, well, sport; unpredictable even at the best of times. 


Knowledge is power 

Another problem with assuming AI language models are the answer to predicting future sporting events is that most chatbots have limited knowledge of the world up until 2021. While this could change in the future, it probably doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why this is a problem when trying to get a detailed review of an upcoming match at the weekend in 2023. Although it should be said that it’s not for the want of trying on their behalf.

At least, after these aforementioned chatbots have made it clear they don’t predict future events when prompted to, they do then proceed to give it a go and what follows is about as strong as the journalism you would find in an inflight magazine on a low-cost airline. A good example of this can be found after this particular writer asked who would win the upcoming 2023 ODI Cricket World Cup. Keep in mind when evaluating the forthcoming answer that the latest cricket odds for the upcoming World Cup price India as of the 24th of March, as the favorites to win at +220. 

Even with the Indians tipped as the overwhelming favorites, the response from ChatGPT was the following despite asking for a prediction in March 2023: “The 2023 Cricket World Cup is still a few years away, and the eventual winner will depend on a variety of factors, such as team performance, player form, injuries, and many other variables.”

Noncommittal is the word that springs to mind after reading that summary and crucially, it is evident to see that it is missing the all-so-important context that accurate sports betting predictions need, such as India will host the World Cup and won it when they last staged the tournament on home soil in 2011.

A busted flush 

By now, you’ll be able to better appreciate that accurate sports betting predictions aren’t a complete science as far as AI or chatbots go but as touched on earlier in the piece, this is not the final product and sooner or later, it will improve. Still, the inescapable truth remains and that is, regardless of how powerful AI tech becomes, it won’t ever be able to give us the answers as to what tomorrow might bring.


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