Posted in: Tattle, Technology

From the archive: could a computer predict the result of the 1970 World Cup?

The miraculous machines had taken us to the moon the year before, surely now they could guess the outcome of a few football matches

A computer with less power than your phone had sent men to the moon in 1969, so getting one to predict the 1970 Mexico World Cup winner for the Observer Magazine should have been nailed on (‘Can England do it again? Computer forecast of the World Cup winner’, 10 May 1970).

Look away now if you want to find out the made-up result later… It finished England 3 Brazil 2 (after extra time). Spoiler alert: it got the winner wrong and the score. And the fact it went to extra time. And one of the teams. But it did correctly predict that Brazil would be in the final. On the surface it does look suspiciously like the computer had simply chosen the previous winner (England in 1966) and Brazil because they were… Brazil.

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