IBM pits computer against human debaters

2018-06-20 05:23
Dr. Noam Slonim, principal investigator, stands with the IBM Project Debater. (Eric Risberg, AP)

Dr. Noam Slonim, principal investigator, stands with the IBM Project Debater. (Eric Risberg, AP)

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IBM is testing a computer against two human debaters in the first public demonstration of artificial intelligence technology it's been working on for more than five years.

The company unveiled its Project Debater in San Francisco on Monday. The argumentative computer system is embodied in 1.5m tall machine shaped like a monolith.

Asked to debate in favour of government-subsidised space exploration – a topic it hadn't studied – the computer quickly delivered an opening argument, pulling in evidence collected from its repository of newspaper articles and journals. It then listened to a human's counter-argument and gave a 4-minute rebuttal.

An IBM research team based in Israel began working on the project not long after IBM's Watson computer beat two human quizmasters on a "Jeopardy" challenge in 2011.

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