Forget Paul the Octopus, the star clairvoyant of this year's World Cup is Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 virtual assistant, Cortana, who has so far correctly predicted the winners of all thirteen World Cup knockout stage games, including Germany's 7 - 1 victory over Brazil last night.
Cortana uses a fairly complicated algorithm for picking the winner, which was briefly explained on Microsoft's Bing blog in June:
For the tournament, our models evaluate the strength of each team through a variety of factors such as previous win/loss/tie record in qualification matches and other international competitions and margin of victory in these contests, adjusted for location since home field advantage is a known bias. Further adjustments are made related to other factors which give one team advantages over another, such as home field (for Brazil) or proximity (South American teams), playing surface (hybrid grass), game-time weather conditions, and other such factors. In addition, data obtained from prediction markets allows us to tune the win/lose/tie probabilities due to the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ phenomenon captured by the people wagering on the outcomes.
Cortana's predictions in the group stage wasn't quite as accurate, as she correctly picked about 60% of the winners. As for tonight's game between Argentina and the Netherlands, Cortana has Argentina winning with a 56.5 percent chance.
To view Cortana's predictions for yourself, simply ask her for world cup predictions in your Windows 8.1 phone. Bing also lists the predictions at www.bing.com/predicts, but for some reason the feature is 'unavailable in Singapore' so you'll have to use a VPN to view it.