- Global tech giant IBM has made a breakthrough in artificial intelligence and language comprehension by launching the world’s first AI system which can engage with humans in a live debate.
- IBM pitted Project Debater, 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.
- An IBM research team based in Israel began working on the project after 2011 success of ‘Jeopardy’.
- The AI can debate on 100 topics with a four-minute opening statement, a rebuttal and then a two-minute closing statement.
- Project debater was asked to make a case for government-subsidized space research a topic it hadn’t studied in advance but championed fiercely in reasoning.
- The computer delivered its opening argument by pulling in evidence from its huge internal repository of newspapers, journals and other sources.
- It then listened to a professional human debater’s counter-argument and spent four minutes rebutting it.
- After closing arguments it moved on to a second debate about telemedicine.
- Project debater was also able to latch onto the most salient and attention-getting elements of an argument.
- It can even deliver some self-referential jokes about being a computer.
- However Humans tend to be better at using more expressive language, more original language as they bring in their own personal experience as a way to illustrate the point. The machine doesn’t live in the real world or have a life that it’s able to tap into.
- Though there are no immediate plans to turn Project Debater into a commercial product, it could be useful in the future in helping lawyers and in decision support systems.
Logic behind Project debater
- To train a computer to debate a human, IBM three major hurdles had to be overcome.
- The system had to gather huge amounts of data, text and others, analyse the information, and from that, retrieve relevant and convincing information.
- Debater must listen to, and comprehend the opponent’s argument to identify concepts and claims and identify weaknesses.
- Finally, the system must recognise human controversy and dilemma so it could suggest principled arguments.
- To do all this, IBM developed a methodology and tooling framework that they called Cicero, which improves the algorithms that control natural-language processing.
- Project debater will one day enhance language-based applications.
- This is an improvement over present day AI, especially Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa that are not even ready for rudimentary conversations.
- Besides these digital valets don’t understand basic commands rendering them ineffective as decision support systems.
Branches of AI used by Project Debater
- Search engine algorithms used to digest and summarize written content and compose new paragraphs similar to Google.
- Therefore the machine tends to be better than humans at bringing in numbers and other detailed supporting evidence
- Voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa rely on listening comprehension to answer questions posed by people.
- IBM created a system that tackles deep human practices of rhetoric and analysis to discuss big questions whose answers aren’t always clear.