Project De­bater is an AI that ar­gues with you — for your own good

HWM (Singapore) - - THINK - By Alvin Soon

To­day’s ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) as­sis­tants can tell us what a thing is, like the weather, the square root of 2, and whether a tomato is a fruit or a veg­etable. But what hap­pens when you want to ask more com­plex ques­tions, like is it okay to shoot one chicken if it saves an­other chicken’s life?

That’s what IBM Re­search’s Project De­bater is ex­plor­ing (not the chicken — the more com­plex ques­tions). Project De­bater is an AI that has been in the works since 2012, and it — you guessed it — de­bates. In fact, IBM Re­search has held the rst live, pub­lic de­bate be­tween an AI and hu­mans in San Fran­cisco.

The rules of the de­bate were sim­ple. There was no aware­ness of the de­bate topic ahead of time and there were no canned re­sponses. Each side had to give a four-minute in­tro­duc­tion, a four-minute re­but­tal to each other’s ar­gu­ments, and a two-minute clos­ing state­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to ort e and The er e, Project De­bater demon­strated un­canny skill go­ing up against the two cham­pion de­baters. The AI was able to an­a­lyze vol­umes of data and cre­ate rel­e­vant an­swers. It cited sources, ar­gued against the hu­mans’ points, and pre­empted pos­si­ble coun­ter­ar­gu­ments. It also, ap­par­ently, made jokes!

De­spites its skill, the pub­li­ca­tions also re­ported that the AI some­times ram­bled on, with some an­swers read ver­ba­tim from ar­ti­cles. Project De­bater also needed a few min­utes to an­a­lyze the hu­mans’ speeches be­fore it could re­spond.

But the fact that an AI could con­ver­sa­tion­ally re­spond to hu­man ar­gu­ments (rel­a­tively) on the y is a re­mark­able achieve­ment. And it’s not for the sake of cre­at­ing some­thing to ar­gue with.

An AI that can sift through vol­umes of data and en­gage in dis­cus­sion could help peo­ple make bet­ter, ev­i­dence­based de­ci­sions. In­stead of sim­ply telling you what’s what, they can en­gage you in dis­cus­sion to present new per­spec­tives. Like whether or not to off that chicken.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.