Scientific American: AI Can Now Debate with Humans and Sometimes Convince Them, Too

Scientific American (March 17, 2021):

Big Tech has now created ” … AI-powered autonomous system that can engage in complex debate with humans over issues ranging from subsidizing preschool and the merit of space exploration to the pros and cons of genetic engineering.”

“” … However, it is still somewhat inferior on average to the results obtained by expert human debaters,” Slonim says.”

If you suspect hype, read this too, in Scientific American (March 17, 2021):

An IBM AI Debates Humans—but It’s Not Yet the Deep Blue of Oratory

“What has eluded computer scientists is a system that can interact with the nuance that enables complex discourse with human beings. Project Debater is getting close to this goal.” (…)

“Based on audience and reader scoring, Project Debater managed to “win” in 2018 against one of the three experts, and it scored impressively high in making opening statements. But on average, it was still slightly inferior to the humans overall. The hurdle is maintaining a meaningful exchange that can take any number of directions, similar to a real human conversation. Still, the study results move the needle in developing an AI system that can understand and produce meaningful linguistic interaction.” (…)

““On stage, Project Debater is far from perfect, and its missteps reveal just how difficult—and how definingly human—argumentation and debate are,” says computer scientist Chris Reed of the University of Dundee in Scotland, who was not involved with the research but was present in the audience at the 2019 debate. “[Yet] the Project Debater research is a tour de force of innovative engineering…. The scale of the achievement of the IBM team is also clear from the live performance of the system: not only using knowledge extracted from very large data sets but also responding on the fly to human discourse.””

“Natarajan and other debaters are not yet ready to concede defeat to “machine overlords.” But for better or worse—one hopes for the better—machine learning is starting to enter a realm beyond the defined rules of chess and Go.”

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