And the 2006 winner is…

by Richard West-Soley 66 views

It's something we all try to do every year. There are polls and surveys galore on the Internet to try and find the answer. The information you get from it could win you a lot of money if you pay a visit to the bookie's before the contest. What are we talking about? Predicting the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest!

This is exactly what a team of Austrian scientists has set out to do as part of a piece of research into artificial intelligence systems. The group of statisticians from the National Technical University in Vienna aimed to find out whether computer generated predictive models could produce accurate results. The resultant computer program produced an identikit style recipe for the perfect Eurovision winner.

Lots of factors involved
Winning, the team decided, is dependent on over 120 elements, including sex, song type, and stage presence. These elements were turned into numbers and fed into the prediction machine, which faithfully crunched away for a week, simulating the contest over 50 million times through its three million artificial intelligence nodes.

Spotting patterns
The results appear to weight certain possibilities for this year's winner. Using the output from the machine, the team spotted several repeating cycles that are in play. One such cycle is the East-European model. Apparently, this cycle is now ended, and Eastern Europe will be denied another victory until 2009 or 2010.

Another cycle is the male winner pattern. The computer concurred that this occurs at a ratio of one or two years per 3.6 years on average. Since Helena Papaizou won the contest in 2005, she brought the cycle of female winners to its maximum length, leading to a probability of 87.3% that the 2006 winner will be male.

There is a 90% chance that the winning song will be upbeat; additionally, 85% chance says that the entry will have a cheering effect on the viewers. The machine suggested that a ballad would only win two or three times between 2008 and 2016, making that choice of winner unlikely for this year.

So, according to the robot brain, we should be looking out for a Western European man performing a happy pop song this year. Common sense or true prediction? Only time will tell… The only certain thing, of course, it that the winning country in 2006 won't be the scientists' native Austria!

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Richard West-Soley

Senior Editor

Richard's ESC history began way back in 1992, when he discovered the contest could fuel his passion for music and languages. Since then, it's been there at every corner for him in some way or another. He joined the team back in 2006, and quickly developed a love for writing about the contest. In his other life, he heads the development team at the learning resources company Linguascope, and writes about all aspects of language learning on the site