TALKING BACK

New IBM Robot Holds Convincing Debate With a Human

A new robot has held a convincing argument with a debate champion, successfully rebutting her arguments in a groundbreaking display of artificial intelligence. IBM’s Project Debater machine draws knowledge from a huge database of newspaper articles and academic journals to form arguments and rebuttals on a surprise topic. The robot’s competitor, Noa Ovadia, who was Israel’s national debating champion in 2016, said: “I think eventually when it can do what we do but better, that’ll be great thing for the human race—for informed decision-making, for informed voting, for informed everything.” The machine took part in two debates; one on whether there should be more publicly funded space exploration, another on whether more should be invested in telemedicine technologies.