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IBM’s AI Wins Debate with Human

A recent match between a talkative IBM computer program and an Israeli college debate champion demonstrated a commendable milestone in the endeavor to develop computers that can hold talks with humans. This achievement led deep thinkers in the tech industry to ask whether a machine is capable of talking too much.

Noa Ovadia, a college senior who is best known for winning an Israeli championship back in 2016, competing with the IBM program dubbed the IBM Debater at an IBM office located downtown San Francisco. While she argued against the subsidies provided by the government for space exploration, the machine debated in favor by delivering three concise speeches in digitally made monotone while replying to Ovadia’s human opinions in small ways.

The system, which has been under development process for six years is part of a larger effort to create technology, which can communicate with people in a manner such as the way humans communicate with one another.

Recently, Google unveiled a system dubbed Google Duplex with the power to call a restaurant and make reservations for dinner. What’s more, in China, you can call Xiaoice, a Microsoft-built chatbot and spend several minutes talking. Some of the top tech companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Google have provided smartphone applications and coffee table devices that can undertake simple activities or even respond to simple questions.

The IBM Debater was created to debate nearly 100 topics even though such exchanges are constrained. They include a four-minute opening statement that is followed by a rebuttal to it’s opponent’s statement. In the end, the system gives a statement summarizing its opinion.

The machine argued that subsidized space exploration inspires kids to pursue education and jobs in science, mathematics, and technology. In fact, the IBM Debater added that it was more vital than improved schools, better healthcare or even good roads.

Noam Slonim, the IBM researcher behind the monitoring of the project approximated that the technology could carry out a meaningful debate on the 100 topics about 40% of the time. IBM selected the topic for the live debate event before it commenced. In various instances, the machine’s prolonged speeches gave a hint of how it was joining together its arguments.

MORE – IBM Watson: What you Need to Know

Back in 2011, IBM unveiled a system that could beat the top players at Jeopardy! , a trivia game show. The company utilized a system called Watson as a way of facilitating a broad array of products and consulting services not only for hospitals but also for other enterprises. Mr. Slonim pitched the idea for the IBM Debater as the company’s next big undertaking after Watson won the trivia challenge.

The project serves as an unorthodox inclusion to the increasingly growing field of AI research. Nonetheless, no other big tech company or leading AI lab is exploring technology with the power to debate like humans. Mr. Slonim acknowledged that although the IBM Debater is not currently on a direct path to the creation of a new service or product, it reflects the current acceleration of natural language understanding-based research. Hence, the progress of this project may offer new ways for computers to take in information and process it easily.

Source NYTIMES

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KC Cheung
KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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