In its latest “man versus machine” event, IBM staged two debates Monday at its San Francisco, California, office between humans and its latest artificial intelligence (AI) system, Project Debater. Using vast data sets and revolutionary speechwriting technology, the AI won the audience vote for “most persuasive” in one of the night’s two arguments, The Guardian reports. Although not as clear-cut a victory as Deep Blue’s chess win over grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997, the debate performance was particularly startling given how “human” most of the skills involved are: reason, rhetoric, argument, and even humor. Project Debater represents a huge leap forward in AI’s potential ability to aid in human decision-making, says computer scientist Chris Reed of the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, it will still be some time before Siri is truly able to talk back.
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