The best predictions are always made in hindsight. Nostradamus achieved fame by writing down a lot of vague bollocks about the future, and relying on the human brain’s incredible ability to spot links and patterns – even where none exist – to do the rest. His legacy is a pile of prophecies that are absolutely brilliant at predicting events, as long as they have already happened.
Now Nostradamus has a silicon rival, but while the French seer generated only 900 or so of his quatrains, the University of Tennessee’s “Nautilus” supercomputer is capable of spewing out countless millions of predictions – enough to keep an army of cherry-pickers beavering away from now until eternity.
Nautilus trundles through hundreds of millions of news articles, applying sentiment analysis algorithms and place name detection to take a subject and correlate it to a location and a general mood. The theory goes that if “Brad Pitt” is mentioned in lots of French articles alongside positive words like “great” or “brilliant” then the French people must love him, but if “Hosni Mubarak” is associated with “evil” or “horrible” then it’s boom-time for Egyptian pitch-fork manufacturers.