IBM Debater Man vs Machine

There took place a live debate in San Francisco. This debate didn’t happen between two humans or teams. The debate was between Man & Machine. While the human went against the motion, the artificially intelligent debate program induced computer by IBM which had a display screen in the place of a facial rebuttal along with some interesting arguments. This was a first live public debate of its kind. IBM is calling this program “The Project Debater”

IBM’s Project Debater is an Artificially Intelligent program specifically designed for debate. IBM has been working on this since quite a while now on their Artificial Intelligence capabilities. The Project Debater does not build the argument on the understanding of the subject, it builds it by adding all the previous arguments and relevant data from Wikipedia articles. It took IBM approximately six years to develop the ‘project debater’. This is not the first time IBM has done something like this. Previously IBM’s ‘Deep Blue’ program beat Gary Kasparov at Chess.

About the Event

The event was held in San Francisco, in which both the Artificially Intelligent Debate program and the Human participant took turns to make arguments and a rebuttal. A second debate was held on the topic of ‘Increased use of telemedicine’ where the Artificially Intelligent Debate program spoke for the motion. The debate was held by the company to promote their Artificial Intelligence capabilities. One should note that both the IBM’s Project debater and the Human participant were not made aware of the debate topics, and were given four minutes each to prepare in advance.

What happened during the debate?

The human debaters were Noa Ovadia and Dan Zafrir. IBM’s AI-powered The Project Debater may have stumbled upon some points but it was really interesting to see a machine arguing with a human. There were two short debates which took place during the Event in which each participant had to prepare a four-minute opening statement, then came the four-minute rebuttal round which everyone was looking forward to, followed by a two-minute summary. The audience was not very enthusiastic about the ‘delivery’ of the machine, but the amount of information it conveyed surpassed their expectations. The audience even found the machine to be more persuasive than its human opponents in both the rounds. The ‘project debater’ expressed its views in a confident female voice and was an extraordinary example of how millions of articles together had been processed.

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