Recorded Future is a start-up service that looks at patterns in recent events to predict what will really happen in the future — for instance, assessing Apple’s sequence of past product updates to predict when the next generation of the iPhone will be unveiled with new features. The service locks most goodies behind paywalls, but you can visit to see which Senate candidates have the most momentum in the upcoming U.S. elections. Quants have been playing this game on Wall Street for decades; it’s about time someone told you which company will expand in India in 2014.
This isn’t exactly a prediction market, that is, a group of individuals whose average guesses can tell you uncanny things about the future (see our BusinessWeek riff on this back in 2008). And we’re not sure how good Recorded Future is at turning trend lines into future targets. But it does seem a natural extension of modern search rankings, which have moved from content links in Google to personal recommendations from Facebook, Twitter and other social media. If search relevance is to become any more relevant, we’ll have to know not only what we want today, but also tomorrow.