Microsoft working on advanced crystal ball

Software giant Microsoft is considering abandoning its faithful set of tarot cards as its key method of predicting the future.

According to Parity News, the Vole has decided that tarot cards are no way to predict the future and favours an advanced form of Bibliomancy instead. Microsoft Research has teamed up with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to create software that can predict events like outbreaks of disease or violence by mining data from old news and the web.

It if it all works then it could mean an end of the educated guess or intuition.

So far, the team, consisting of Eric Horvitz from Microsoft Research and Kira Radinsky from Technion-Israel Institute, tested it with articles from the New York Times spanning over 20 years from archives between 1986 and 2007.

We guess, based on that source, Apple technology will rule the world and everyone will be a happy subject in Cupertino’s walled garden.

But apparently the test data also included data from other sources such as the web which means the software is able to soothsay more efficiently and put them into better context. In the case of the New York Times it meant that the software could see that there was not just a band called Coldplay, and there were technology companies out there other than Apple.

According to a research paper from the team, the database considers the use of words and their related terms. For example, if you wanted to predict the number of deaths by chocolate, you would type in the words “death” and “chocolate.”

The researchers want to develop the tool in such a way that it will provide proper guidance in terms of short term actions that can be taken based on present data.

According to the researchers, their work will go on – and they are looking forward to mining more data from other newspapers, digitised books and such sources to refine their software.

The team hopes that its work will promote additional research in this field by using past experiences and human knowledge to predict future events and come up with good ideas to solve problems before they happen.

They claim that the software may assist government agencies and other organisations working towards humanitarian causes to provide better response in case of disasters and epidemics. It could also help Steve Ballmer avoid missing key business opportunities, again.