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Share Your Thoughts and Gain Perspective with IBM Project Debater

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Check out part one and part two of our update on Project Debater – Speech by Crowd from CES!


IBM Project Debater pushes the frontiers of AI as the first system capable of engaging humans in debate. Now, IBM scientists envision a future for the technology beyond the podium: helping people reason, build well-informed arguments and make decisions.

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Project Debater – Speech by Crowd, a new and experimental cloud-based platform for crowdsourcing decision support, uses AI to collect free-text arguments from large audiences on debatable topics and automatically construct persuasive viewpoints to support or contest the topic. After the AI analyzes the arguments for their polarity, strength and relevance to the topic, the results are displayed on this indicator scale.

An exciting new component of this vision will be shared for the first time this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where we will demonstrate Project Debater – Speech by Crowd. This is a new and experimental cloud-based AI platform for crowdsourcing decision support. Project Debater – Speech by Crowd uses the core AI behind Project Debater to collect free-text arguments from large audiences on debatable topics and automatically construct persuasive viewpoints to support or contest the topic.

We’ll feature Project Debater – Speech by Crowd all week at CES, analyzing the pros and cons of a new topic, as viewed by the crowd, each day. Whether or not you’re attending CES, you can participate.

Visit the Project Debater – Speech by Crowd experience online every day to weigh in on the daily topic. The first day’s topic is “Gambling should be banned.” Make your voice heard! Contribute your most thoughtful and inspiring arguments on the topic, then come to our booth (Central Hall – IBM booth 14028)—or check back here if you aren’t in Las Vegas—for the results and to see if Project Debater uses your arguments to construct its pro and con speeches.

How it works

AI assistants have become embedded in our daily lives for tasks like searching for photos, shuffling a playlist or dimming the lights. Today’s AI applications can also help businesses with customer service and analytics. Project Debater extends AI into the area of text-based decision support. It has potential in many areas; for example, a municipality seeking to understand constituents’ positions on a proposed policy; a company gathering more nuanced, multi-dimensional user reviews on a new product; or an organization seeking richer feedback on customer satisfaction.

The science behind Project Debater – Speech by Crowd marks another advance toward mastering language, a key objective for AI research at IBM.

Project Debater – Speech by Crowd is a real platform, and a work in progress from IBM Research. Today, you might see some mistakes or surprising comments in the final speeches. Over the coming months, we’ll be refining it and testing it out in increasingly challenging situations, allowing us to learn and advance Project Debater and AI in general. We welcome your feedback, so please let us know what you think!

Project Debater with human professional AIProject Debater – Speech by Crowd is just one of the new directions we are exploring to exploit Project Debater’s capabilities. The AI technology’s first live public debate took place in June before a small audience. Project Debater was tested against the 2016 Israeli national debate champion, Noa Ovadia. Following closing summaries from both sides, a snap poll showed that a majority of audience members surveyed thought Project Debater enriched their knowledge more than its human counterpart, a thrilling outcome for our research team.

Live debate at THINK 2019

Now, to continue to advance the science, we are throwing the doors wide open and inviting the world to watch Project Debater as it faces its highest caliber debater opponent yet—live at IBM’s annual THINK conference in February. Project Debater will take on a world champion debater in front of an in-person audience of hundreds, with even more watching via livestream. We’re extremely excited (albeit a little nervous!) for the opportunity to share, observe, and further improve Project Debater’s performance in this exciting setting.

Join us in person or watch via livestream to witness a powerful demonstration of AI’s progress toward mastering language.

IBM Research

Noam Slonim

Distinguished Engineer, Project Debater, IBM Research-Haifa

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