We can't win over the machines but we can find better excuses

Harish Natarajan

Harish Natarajan

An IBM-made machine created to win debates has lost out to a human champion debater from London, in a heated competition of man versus artificial intelligence.

So, let's have an argument over AI. In 1996, IBM produced a computer system that was able to beat a chess grandmaster for the first time, and then in 2011 its Watson AI system was able to defeat two record winning Jeopardy! contestants - and that's just IBM's achievements, as companies like Google's parent company Alphabet have proved AI can master the ancient game of Go.

Natarajan "is at a different level compared to the debaters we faced so far", said Ranit Aharonov, IBM's manager of Project Debater. A panel of four data scientists oversaw its operation. Natarajan commented on the A.I.'s abilities stating: "What struck me was the potential value for Debater because of the amount of knowledge it can grasp".

He asserted that a combination of this technology and human skills could be incredibly powerful. Whichever debater changed the most minds by the end of the program won. He saw a 17 percent uplift in measures taken pre- and post-debate. It then tries to capture "the gist" of the opponent's arguments before plumbing the depths of its memory for counterpoints.

The project can even generate its own arguments and rebuttal, and closing argument by using newspaper and magazine articles from its own database and also taking in the arguments of its human opponent.

"Another part of the system uses a unique production of more principled arguments that are relevant to the topic".

"In debate, there's no right or wrong answer", Soffer said.

Washington D.C, Feb 12: Think you are great at debating?

Ravens Joe Flacco Traded to Broncos
But alas, the Broncos have made a trade which can't be official until March 13th, when the new league year begins for the NFL. The trade is rumored to be Flacco in exchange for a "mid-round pick" - details of which will be revealed in the near future.

Debater also managed to make the audience laugh.

As the debate started, each side was given 4 minutes to present their opening statements followed by a 4-minute rebuttal to the other party.

"It's really pushing the boundaries [of the] kinds of AI systems that are more interactive with us and can understand us better", IBM Research director Dario Gil said Monday on CNN's First Move.

That's IBM's hope for the future of the technology. "We envision a future of the technology well beyond the podium, helping people to reason, to build well-informed arguments and to make better decisions".

It isn't clear when IBM might be able to commercialise elements of Project Debater for use in enterprise environments.

The full debate is available online to replay.

Harish Natarajan, a 31-year-old champion debater who holds the world record for most debate competition victories, with the 2016 World Debating Championships and 2012 European Debate among his accolades, argued successfully against the resolution, saying that it does not address the root causes of poverty.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.