Neighbourhood Technology Desk: IBM pitted a computer against two human debaters in the first public demonstration of artificial intelligence technology it’s been working on for more than five years. Company unveiled its Project Debater in San Francisco on Monday, asking it to make a case for government-subsidized space research — a topic it hadn’t studied in advance but championed fiercely with just a few awkward gaps in reasoning. Computer delivered its opening argument by pulling in evidence from its huge internal repository of newspapers, journals and other sources.
It then listened to a professional human debater’s counter-argument and spent four minutes rebutting it. An IBM research team based in Israel began working on the project not long after IBM’s Watson computer beat two human quiz-masters on a “Jeopardy” challenge in 2011. But rather than just scanning a giant trove of data in search of factoids, IBM’s latest project taps into several more complex branches of AI. Search engine algorithms used by Google and Microsoft’s Bing use similar technology to digest and summarize written content and compose new paragraphs.