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BING IT! Scotland will vote NO, according to Microsoft

James Temperton
17 Sep 2014
Bing predicts Scottish referendum
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Bing has used search, social and other data to predict the result of the Scottish referendum

Oft-forgotten search engine Bing has predicted the outcome of the Scottish referendum using algorithms and data from the web, with the No vote just coming out on top.

The data, which forms part of the experimental Bing Predicts initiative, is compiled from thousands of search queries that reflect public mood as the referendum approaches. Bing, which is owned by Microsoft, currently puts the No vote on 51.9 per cent with Yes behind on 48.1 per cent. Bing data shows that the Yes vote is up 0.6 per cent since Monday.

Bing Predicts uses machine learning to analyse and detect trends from the web and social networks. It has previously been used to correctly predict the winner of American Idol and successfully predicted the outcome in 15 out of 15 World Cup 2014 knockout matches.

Microsoft said that the technology used to predict the Scottish referendum result was different.

"Because the Scottish Referendum is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event with no historical precedence it brings its own challenges for data analysis," Microsoft said.

"Algorithmically, we detect terms that are pro-independence and compare the aggregate sentiment against phrases which are pro-union to arrive at a prediction for whether the referendum will have a yes or no vote."

Information used by Bing Predicts is constantly updated, with the latest results reflecting opinion on 16 September. As well as predicting the overall outcome, Microsoft is also looking at what search queries have been popular in the past six months.

According to the data top concerns of the Scottish people with regards the referendum are currency, geo-politics, nationality and identity, banks, oil and the BBC. Anyone wanting to see Bing's latest Scottish referendum predictions should head to www.bing.com and search for 'Scottish referendum'.

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