[Nature 2021] An Autonomous Debating System | IBM Project Debater vs. Champion Human Debater
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[Nature 2021] An Autonomous Debating System | IBM Project Debater vs. Champion Human Debater

Feb 12, 2019
In partnership with IBM, Intelligence Squared U.S. is hosting a unique debate between a world-class champion debater and an AI system. IBM Project Debater is the first AI system designed to debate humans on complex topics using a combination of pioneering research developed by IBM researchers, including: data-driven speechwriting and delivery, listening comprehension, and modeling human dilemmas. First debuted in a small closed-door event in June 2018, Project Debater will now face its toughest opponent yet in front of its largest-ever audience, with our own John Donvan in the moderator’s seat. The topic will not be revealed to Project Debater and the champion human debater until shortly before the debate begins. The paper that details the autonomous debating system is published on Nature on March 17, 2021 Abstract: Artificial intelligence (AI) is defined as the ability of machines to perform tasks that are usually associated with intelligent beings. Argument and debate are fundamental capabilities of human intelligence, essential for a wide range of human activities, and common to all human societies. The development of computational argumentation technologies is therefore an important emerging discipline in AI research1. Here we present Project Debater, an autonomous debating system that can engage in a competitive debate with humans. We provide a complete description of the system’s architecture, a thorough and systematic evaluation of its operation across a wide range of debate topics, and a detailed account of the system’s performance in its public debut against three expert human debaters. We also highlight the fundamental differences between debating with humans as opposed to challenging humans in game competitions, the latter being the focus of classical ‘grand challenges’ pursued by the AI research community over the past few decades. We suggest that such challenges lie in the ‘comfort zone’ of AI, whereas debating with humans lies in a different territory, in which humans still prevail, and for which novel paradigms are required to make substantial progress.

0:18 Introduction by Dario Gil, Director@ IBM Research 3:50 Introduction by John Donvan, Moderator 9:45 Resolution & audience vote 10:52 Debate round #1 22:38 How the system works by Noam Slonim, Project Debator PI @ IBM Research 24:22 Debate round #2 37:30 Debate round #3 43:30 Panel discussion 52:41 The results