IBM’s ‘unsettling’ AI supercomputer argues convincingly against humans in landmark debates between man and machine


IBM’s new AI supercomputer has been shown to argue, rebut and debate humans with incredible skill.Named Project Debater, the ‘unsettling’ AI competed in what the company describes as ‘computational argumentation’.This is when debaters know a subject, present a position and defending it against opposition.Neither the machine or nor the human debaters were given prior knowledge of the subject of the on-stage debate, which took place in San Francisco.Both man and machine were asked to present a four-minute introductory speech, a four-minute rebuttal to the other’s arguments, and finish with a two-minute closing statement.Although the crowd overwhelmingly agreed the human beings were unmatched in delivery, it decided the machine made better arguments with more substance.BM’s AI system is not connected to the internet, but instead uses a stash of hundreds of millions of newspaper and magazine articles on ‘about 100 areas of knowledge’ which the AI is able to draw upon to build its argument.According to IBM Principle Investigator for Project Debator Dr Noam Slonim, the computer is not designed to simply regurgitate arguments from existing pieces, but use individual sentences, or arguments within them, to build its own opinion.