IBM has unveiled Project Debater, a conversational artificial intelligence which can hold a debate using information from journals and newspaper articles.
Project Debater began its training six years ago but it could only hold a debate with people two years ago. A demo was held for journalists at IBM’s offices in San Francisco where the AI debated issues relating to healthcare and the subsidisation of space exploration.
The company didn’t give its AI an easy time either – it was competing against Dan Zafrir, President of the International Debate Society in Israel, and 2016 national Israel debate champion Noa Ovadia.
Debater opened its supporting argument for space exploration subsidisation with facts such as how it benefits humankind because it helps advance scientific discoveries and inspires young people to think beyond themselves.
Ovadia countered the argument saying there are better applications for government subsidies, including for scientific research here on Earth.
The AI considered Ovadia’s argument before delivering a rebuttal that potential technological and economic benefits from space exploration outweigh other government spending.
According to IBM, aside from opening remarks and jokes, none of the debates were scripted.
Following the debate, a poll showed the majority of audience members thought Project Debater enriched their knowledge more than its human counterpart.
Politicians have gained somewhat of a reputation for using arguments without factual basis in debates to support their campaigns. Short of their opponent being prepared to counter it, the argument can be seen as true. It’s easy to see where an AI like Project Debater could one day act as a mediator in these circumstances to ensure points are not misleading.
If nothing else, Project Debater would be great for training for any form of public speaking to ensure the arguments are factual and prepare for any potential rebukes to avoid embarrassment.
Heck, it could even be used privately to challenge some of our own views following potential exposure to politicians’ lies, “fake news”, and propaganda bots.
What are your thoughts on IBM’s Project Debater AI? Let us know in the comments.