"The topic of the debate related to whether or not preschools should be subsidized; an area in which audiences stated that Natarajan effectively enriched their knowledge about the topic and ultimately resulted in him beating the A.I. Despite Project Debater's loss, A.I. scientist Noam Slonim who was the lead investigator on the project was impressed with the A.I.'s performance".
Project Debater has only been out in the open since June 2018, but Big Blue is expending significant effort in developing its capabilities. Debating requires bringing together different AI systems and making sure they all work together. The proportion of people in agreement with the statement dropped to 62 percent after the debate, which made Natarajan the victor.
While the debating system, Miss Debater argued that subsidizing preschools isn't just a matter of finance, but a moral and political duty to protect some of society's most vulnerable children, Natarajan countered that, too often, subsidies function as politically motivated giveaways to the middle class. For those who are interested in the debate bot, IBM is hosting an "experimental cloud-based AI platform for crowdsourcing decision support", which they were undoubtedly hoping to drum up support for with this stunt.
Aharonov says: "The vision around Project Debater is how do we develop the technology". That post-debate poll also showed the audience believed the bot had done a better job of enriching their topic information than the human. It would be interesting to see how AI-based systems operate in the future. There was a silver lining for the bot: in a post-debate poll, nearly 60 percent of the audience said Project Debater had enriched their knowledge on the subject, with Natarajan's corresponding rate only 20 percent.
The project can even generate its own arguments and rebuttal, and closing argument by using newspaper and magazine articles from its own database and also taking in the arguments of its human opponent. Natarajan added that the A.I.'s arguments were "nicely phrased and contextualized", and that the A.I. could be "quite powerful" when used by humans.
"It needs to pinpoint these little pieces of text that are relevant to the topic, that are argumentative in nature, that hopefully support our side of the debate, and then somehow glue them together into a meaningful argument, which is very hard for a machine to do".
As the debate started, each side was given 4 minutes to present their opening statements followed by a 4-minute rebuttal to the other party.
Gil noted prior to the debate kicking off that the machine was never going to be ideal. He said Debater was "going to a territory that's extremely human".