databuff writes: Predictions are critical to modern life. Police predict where and when crimes are most likely to take place, banks predict which loan applicants are most likely to default and hotels forecast seasonal demand to set room rates. A new project called Kaggle facilitates better predictions by providing a platform for forecasting competitions. The platform allows organizations to post their data and have it scrutinized by the world's best statisticians. It will offer a robust rating system, so it's easy to identify those with a proven track record. Organizations can choose either to follow the experts, or to follow the consensus of the crowd — which, according to New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki, is likely to be more accurate than the vast majority of individual predictions. The power of a pool of predictions was demonstrated by the Netflix Prize, a $1m data-prediction competition, which was won by a team of teams that combined 700 models. Kaggle's first competition is underway, and it is accessing the 'wisdom of crowds' to predict the winner of this May's Eurovision Song Contest.
Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be
lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.
- Isaac Asimov