Election Tech 2016

TechRepublic will use 'swarm AI' to make predictions about the 2016 US presidential election

Using Unanimous A.I.'s UNU platform, TechRepublic will conduct real-time 'swarms' to make guesses about what will happen before the conventions, debates, and the general election for the next US president.

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In the age of AI and big data, tech is having a profound impact on everything from business to education to government. Recognizing this, TechRepublic has been examining how tech is affecting the 2016 US presidential race by providing special reporting on Election Tech 2016.

As we head into the final stretch towards the election, with the party conventions fast approaching, TechRepublic is looking at how technology is shaping the race itself and the issues that will decide who wins. How is data being leveraged in the campaigns? How do social media analytics play into the race? How are the candidates taking different approaches with how to use new technology?

In this vein, we are experimenting with another new tech tool to help examine and predict the results: Swarm AI.

What is Swarm AI? It's a software platform created by Unanimous A.I. that assembles a group of people to make real-time decisions online. The group is presented with a series of answers for a given question, like "Who will win for Best Actor in a leading role?" (at the Oscars) and each individual drags their "magnet" to the correct answer, while the "group" decision moves towards an answer—kind of like a virtual Ouiji board (see below).

Image: Unanimous A.I.

Swarms are based on the concept that a group—using the examples of swarms from nature—make smarter predictions than individuals, even the smartest individual in the group. Unanimous A.I.'s swarms have successfully predicted all kinds of events, from the Academy Awards to the Iowa Caucuses to the Superbowl.

SEE: New research shows that Swarm AI makes more ethical decisions than individuals

TechRepublic has been covering how swarms work since January. In May, we challenged a swarm to predict the Kentucky Derby—and it nailed the superfecta, (top four horses, in order), beating 540-1 odds.

After the incredible success at the Derby, we have decided to challenge swarms to make predictions in a new field: politics.

In addition to making general predictions about the election, TechRepublic's swarms will look at attitudes about the tech and business issues that matter to our readers.

We will hold three swarms:

  1. Before the conventions
  2. After the conventions, before the debates
  3. After the debates, before election day

The swarm will be assembled in cooperation with Unanimous A.I. It will be a randomly-selected group, assembled through Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Our first swarm will be conducted on Thursday, July 7, a little more than two weeks before the first convention. Here are our questions for the group, subject to slight modifications:

  • Who is likely to be chosen for the Vice Presidential nominee for the Republicans?
  • Who is likely to be chosen for 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 what 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 tech innovation into the government?
  • Which candidate will help create the strongest cyber defense policy?
  • What is the most important issue to voters? (Jobs, Immigration, Healthcare, Gun Control, Environment, Education)
  • 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?

In addition to our interest in the answers the swarm will provide about the tech and business issues that voters are most interested in, once all of the swarms have been conducted, we are also interested in a broader question: Can AI be used as an alternate method—or, a more accurate indicator—than traditional tools like polling, data analytics, and experts?

SEE: How 'artificial swarm intelligence' uses people to make better predictions than experts

TechRepublic will post the results of our first Election Tech 2016 swarm before the conventions begin.

Have your own questions you'd like the swarm to answer after the conventions? Let us know in the comments below. And use #ElectionSwarm to follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.


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About Hope Reese

Hope Reese is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the intersection of technology and society, examining the people and ideas that transform how we live today.

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