The odds of picking the winning Mega Millions lottery numbers are about one in 300 million. Donald Ylvisaker, UCLA Professor Emeritus of Statistics and California lottery statistician, was asked if he thought AI could help pick winning lottery numbers.
"I am confident the answer is no, no such machine exists,” he said. "[The lottery] relies on a random number generator. Random number generators have improved immensely since the old days. Old ones used old-fashioned algorithms. Nowadays, they are very, very sophisticated."
One hurdle to using AI to predict lottery numbers is the amount of data that would have to be analyzed. Multiple random number generating machines are used to select the final numbers as well, so even if a pattern in one machine was identified, the pattern may be different in another machine, even if that machine is mechanically identical. There would be trillions of possible combinations to analyze.
"There's the sequences of tickets, sequences of combinations, and pretty soon that multiples up into a ton of possibilities," Ylvisaker said. "I don't think there's any way anyone is going to come close to that. You just can't generate enough data."
AI and machine learning use the collection of data to predict results but since the lottery runs on unpredictability, AI is unlikely to crack the code.