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IBM Pits Computer Against Human Debaters

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Noam Slonim of IBM's Haifa, Israel, Research Lab, with Project Debater.

IBM recently tested its Project Debater system by pitting it against two human debaters.

Credit: Eric Risberg/AP

In the first public demonstration of artificial intelligence (AI) technology representing more than five years of work, IBM has tested its computer system, called Project Debater, against two human debaters.

IBM asked the tool to argue in favor of government-subsidized space research, a subject that the system had not studied in advance. Project Debater made a compelling argument, with only a few reasoning gaps.

The  project taps into several branches of AI to attempt more sophisticated rhetoric and analysis.

The machine tends to surpass humans at bringing numbers and other detailed supporting evidence into a debate, and successfully uses the most salient elements of an argument.

"Humans tend to be better at using more expressive language, more original language," says IBM's Dario Gil. "They bring in their own personal experience as a way to illustrate the point."

Project Debater could help lawyers or other human workers make informed decisions, Gil says.

From Associated Press
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