Humankind has notched up a rare victory against the machines in the ongoing battle with artificial intelligence.
London‘s Harish Natarajan, 31, was a grand finalist at the 2016 World Debating Championship and defeated IBM’s Miss Debater in a discussion regarding the potential subsidising of pre-schooling.
It draws on more than ten billion sentences from a variety of areas, including scientific research and newspaper cuts.
A lecture theatre of 700 people deemed the human participant to be the victor after hearing a four-minute opening statement, a four-minute rebuttal, and a two-minute summary.
The machine is the culmination of seven years of research and builds on the success of the Watson project.
Watson pioneered the field of artificial intelligence but has not been without criticism.
Last year it provided ‘often inaccurate’ and ‘unsafe’ treatment recommendations for cancer patients when used as part of an oncology system.
It recently defeated the world’s most accomplished humans at Chess, Go and Dota 2.
London’s Harish Natarajan, 31, defeated IBM’s Miss Debater in San Francisco. Miss Debater was arguing in favour of the motion and Mr Natarajan argued against it
It was developed over seven years by researchers in multiple countries, including Israel and India.
Miss Debater, renamed after initially being called Project Debater, is programmed to learn from a back-catalogue of data as well as responding to the individual.
A female voice delivered the argument of the machine from a black monolith that stands as tall as a human and has three blue lights present on a display.
Neither Mr Natarajan or Miss Debater had time to prepare for the debate before the day and just 15 minutes before it began to swat up on the topic.
Miss Debater was arguing in favour of the motion and Mr Natarajan argued against it.
The machine opened the argument by welcoming its opponent and predicting its emergence as victor.
It said: ‘Greeting Harish. I have heard that you hold the world record in debate competitions against humans.
‘But I suspect you’ve never debated a machine. Welcome to the future.’
It opened its argument with a well constructed argument with several nuanced points.
A lecture theatre of 700 people deemed the human participant to be the victor after hearing a four-minute opening statement, a four-minute rebuttal, and a two-minute summary
WHY ARE PEOPLE SO WORRIED ABOUT AI?
It is an issue troubling some of the greatest minds in the world at the moment, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk.
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk described AI as our ‘biggest existential threat’ and likened its development as ‘summoning the demon’.
He believes super intelligent machines could use humans as pets.
Professor Stephen Hawking said it is a ‘near certainty’ that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.
They could steal jobs
More than 60 percent of people fear that robots will lead to there being fewer jobs in the next ten years, according to a 2016 YouGov survey.
And 27 percent predict that it will decrease the number of jobs ‘a lot’ with previous research suggesting admin and service sector workers will be the hardest hit.
As well as posing a threat to our jobs, other experts believe AI could ‘go rogue’ and become too complex for scientists to understand.
A quarter of the respondents predicted robots will become part of everyday life in just 11 to 20 years, with 18 percent predicting this will happen within the next decade.
They could ‘go rogue’
Computer scientist Professor Michael Wooldridge said AI machines could become so intricate that engineers don’t fully understand how they work.
If experts don’t understand how AI algorithms function, they won’t be able to predict when they fail.
This means driverless cars or intelligent robots could make unpredictable ‘out of character’ decisions during critical moments, which could put people in danger.
For instance, the AI behind a driverless car could choose to swerve into pedestrians or crash into barriers instead of deciding to drive sensibly.
They could wipe out humanity
Some people believe AI will wipe out humans completely.
‘Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this,’ DeepMind’s Shane Legg said in a recent interview.
He singled out artificial intelligence, or AI, as the ‘number one risk for this century’.
Musk warned that AI poses more of a threat to humanity than North Korea.
‘If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea,’ the 46-year-old wrote on Twitter.
‘Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too.’
Musk has consistently advocated for governments and private institutions to apply regulations on AI technology.
He has argued that controls are necessary in order protect machines from advancing out of human control
Miss Debater opened its argument with a well constructed argument with several nuanced points and Mr Natarajan countered
‘While I have not experienced poverty directly and have no complaints concerning my own standards of living, I still have the following to share,’ the female voice said.
‘Regarding poverty, research clearly shows that preschool helps kids overcome disadvantages associated with poverty.’
Mr Natarajan countered by saying the true beneficiaries would be the middle classes and not the most vulnerable the initiative is aimed at.
‘Even when you subsidise preschools, it doesn’t mean that all individuals go’, he argued.
‘This is the fallacy from what we heard from Project Debater.’
‘Yes, you can make it slightly more accessible for individuals to attend preschool but that doesn’t mean that those individuals who Project Debater seems to care about will have the ability to send their children to preschool.’
A vote before the debate kicked off determined 79 per cent of the audience was in favour of the motion, eight per cent were undecided and 13 per cent were against it
A second poll was done immediately after the debate and found 17 per cent of the audience had changed their opinion
A vote before the debate kicked off determined 79 per cent of the audience was in favour of the motion, eight per cent were undecided and 13 per cent were against it.
A second poll was done immediately after the debate and found 17 per cent of the audience had changed their opinion.
With 62 per cent in favour and 30 per cent against (8 per cent remained undecided).
Mr Natarajan said the technology is not quite at the point of rendering human debaters obsolete.
He said: ‘There will come a point, whether that’s 18 months from now, whether that’s 10 years from now, where the development of AI will make it very difficult for a human to able to beat it particularly in this type of format.’
‘But we’re probably not quite there yet.’
The technology is being sold by IBM to businesses where it may be used in the future to complete a sale or make an argument in court, according to the director of IBM Research, Dario Gil.
WHAT DOES IBM’S WATSON DO?
Watson already has won a major TV game show, is looking for a cure for cancer and has ambitious gastronomy ambitions including devising a recipe for chocolate-beef burritos.
The IBM supercomputer is becoming a jack of all trades for the US tech giant — including in its new role as a business consultant and analyst for various industries by using massive Internet databases.
IBM has developed a Watson Engagement Advisor application to counsel members of the military and their families how to smartly manage shifting to life after the service.
IBM announced last April that its Watson technology would be used for tracking down rogue traders at financial firms
In the oil and gas sector, IBM has worked with the British tech group Arria to integrate Watson’s capabilities to help improve management of leaks in refineries.
Watson has teamed with Elemental Path, maker of ‘smart toys,’ such as a dinosaur that can tell stories and answer questions from children.
The computer has in its memory thousands of recipes from ‘Bon Appetit’ magazine, and it also knows the chemical properties of foods.
If Watson suggests marrying strawberries with mushrooms, it’s because the two foods share a chemical bond.