Forget crystal balls and precogs! Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research and Kira Radinsky of Technion-Israel Institute were able to create computer algorithms that can predict the future by reading The New York Times, Wikipedia, and other web sources:
The methods we describe operate on newsfeeds and can provide large numbers of predictions. We demonstrate the predictive power of mining thousands of news stories to cre- ate classifers for a range of prediction problems. We show as examples forecasts on three prediction challenges: proactive alerting on forthcoming disease outbreaks, deaths, and riots. These event classes are interesting in serving as examples of predictions that can serve as heralds for attention for guiding interventions that may be able to change outcomes for the better. We compare the predictive power of the methods to several baselines and demonstrate precisions of forecasts in these domains ranging from 70% to 90% with a recall of 30% to 60%.
GigaOm has the story: Link