International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Project Debater faced off against a two-person team in a debate on Monday – one of whom was the 2016 Israeli national debate champion. The Artificial Intelligence robot managed hold its own in two short debates and convinced people in the audience to change their minds.
The debate was based in IBM’s office at San Francisco, where the robot spoke clearly with correct grammar using relevant points and responded to arguments made from its opponents on telemedicine. It was able to change the minds of nine audience members who disagreed with the notion of societal telemedicine use.
According to Bloomberg, a machine that probes and questions human arguments has real-world applications. Lawyers could use it to search for court cases with viable arguments, CEOs could use it to set up a presentation for company strategy, and teachers could use it to help students develop critical thinking skills. It makes AI relevant to anything that requires decision making, according to the manager of debating technologies team at IBM in Haifa, Israel – Ranit Aharanov.
The machine works by putting together multiple algorithms and AI techniques cited by academic papers from IBM Research in recent years. Once the computer is informed of the topic, it uses an algorithm to extract relevant and argumentative texts from a database of millions of news and academic articles while cutting out repetitions. The voice recognition system listens to its opponent and according to researchers, it can make an effort at any argumentative topic without training.