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IBM says AI debate loss is still a win

AFP  |  Washington 

conceded Tuesday its artificial intelligence-powered lost a competition to a human debate champion but said the experience was an important milestone in efforts to get computers to master human language.

In the first live, public debate before a large, in-person and online audience, the declared winner was Harish Natarajan, who holds the record for most debate competition victories, said in a blog post.

In the debate on Monday, and Natarajan were given 15 minutes to prepare for the debate on the merits of subsidizing preschools.

The program argued for subsidies, calling it an for helping the poorest members of society; Natarajan spoke against the idea, saying the subsidy fails to address the root causes of poverty and is a "politically motivated giveaway" to middle-class families.

The winner of the event was determined by the debater's ability to change the minds of the audience. Before the debate, 79 percent of the audience agreed that preschools should be subsidized, while 13 percent disagreed.

After the debate, 62 per cent of respondents agreed that preschools should be subsidized, while 30 percent disagreed, meaning Natarajan was able to persuade more people to change their minds.

IBM said the experience "is not about winning or losing" but about creating "that can master the infinitely complex and rich world of human langauge." The debate marked a new challenge for for IBM, whose Watson computer previously defeated a grand chessmaster and won the television trivia game

Ranit Aharanov, manger of the team, said in a discussion after the debate that the goal is to help humans deal with complex decision. "It's not a question of whether AI is going to be better than humans," she said, but to help people filter and find key bits of information in large quantities of text.

"It can debate both sides, so it can very quickly help you understand both sides of the problem, so you have a wider view of the problem and can make a better decision.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 01:15 IST