Predicting Presidents, Storms and Life by Computer

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Forget political pundits, gut instincts, and psychics. The mightier-than-ever silicon chip seems to reveal the future.

In just two weeks this fall, computers models displayed an impressive prediction prowess.

First, a computer model alerted meteorologists to the pre-Halloween disaster headed for the Northeast from a bunch of clouds in the Caribbean. Nearly a week later, that weather system became Hurricane Sandy.

Then, statistician and blogger Nate Silver correctly forecast on his beat-up laptop how all 50 states would vote for president. He did it by taking polling data, weighing it for past accuracy and running 40,000 computer simulations at a time.

In the case of Sandy, lives were at stake. With the election, reputations were on the line and some pundits were dismissive of the computer modeling.