“As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know,” famously explained former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. “We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns–the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Thanks to a technology innovation known as swarm AI the unknown unknown variables in politics and business may be evaporating. Swarm AI, known as “soft” artificial intelligence because the technology is a forecasting tool developed by a company called Unanimous.A.I. and is used, as the website claims, to “answer questions, make predictions, reach decisions, and even crack jokes.”

Hope Reese covers artificial intelligence for TechRepublic and recently collaborated with Unanimous.A.I. on the swarm’s most dramatic success–an accurate prediction of the top finishers in the Kentucky Derby. Reese detailed the forecasting potential for artificial intelligence:

Unanimous A.I. has built a software platform called UNU that harnesses the power of the crowd to make predictions. Instead of the popular neural network, which emulates brain activity, “swarm AI” looks to a different part of nature: The insect swarm. The concept is that the various units of the group will influence each other in order to arrive at a correct decision–one that is more accurate than any individual prediction.

The tool has been remarkably accurate in the past, predicting winners for the Super Bowl, Oscars, and even predicting how political candidates would perform in the primaries. For the 2015 Oscars, a group of seven UNU users (all non-experts) accurately predicted 11 out of 15 categories correctly–in under a minute. The 73% success rate beat experts at The New York Times, who only achieved 55% accuracy.

SEE: Research: 63% say business will benefit from AI (Tech Pro Research report)

This election cycle, TechRepublic is reporting on the influence and role of big data in politics and elections. In collaboration with Unanimous.A.I., we’re going to ask a swarm of voters several questions about politics and policy, and the implications for tech and business.

TechRepublic’s initial swarm will launch Thursday, July 7th, and through election day our team will employ three swarms. Here are the questions we will ask:

  • Who is likely to be chosen as the vice presidential nominee for the Republicans?
  • Who is likely to be chosen as the vice presidential nominee for the Democrats?
  • If the election were held today, who would be most likely to win?
  • If Trump/Clinton wins, by how much percent?
  • Which candidate will help create more jobs?
  • Which candidate will be better for the overall economy?
  • Which candidate will be stronger on net neutrality, keeping the internet free and open?
  • Which candidate will do more to incorporate technological innovation into the government?
  • Which candidate will help create the strongest cyber defense policy?
  • What is the most important issue to voters?
  • Which candidate will do more to drive innovation, technology, and STEM goals?
  • Which candidate will work better with Silicon Valley and tech companies?
  • Will the candidate with the most money win?
  • Will the candidate with the most social media followers win?

We will contrast Swarm A.I.’s prediction results with traditional forecasting models used by polling outlets, analysis from media pundits, and TechRepublic’s internal social media data analysis.

Using the election as an example, our goal is to extrapolate the value of swarm AI for SMBs and enterprise companies. We hope to uncover unique insights and find ways business can benefit from campaign innovations. (TechRepublic)

If you’re Donald Rumsfeld, a data scientist, social media professional, or inquisitive TechRepublic reader we’d love your ideas on how to inspect campaign social media data. Please leave a comment below or ping us on Twitter @TechRepublic.

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