Briefing

IBM computer, debating itself, decides AI is great

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The company’s Project Debater, a data-driven computer designed to debate humans, turned its sights inward for a Cambridge University-hosted debate over the benefits and perils of artificial intelligence. It took about a minute for the system to determine which side Cambridge students’ crowdsourced contributions were on, then rank and present arguments on both sides—though it didn’t serve drinks or tidy the croquet pitch. (Associated Press)

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Talking point: The self-hating side of the AI computer project presented a bleak, Skynet-like vision of the future: “It cannot make moral decisions easily and can lead to disasters. AI can cause a lot of harm,” it said. The pro-AI side was decidedly more cheery, saying it would rid humankind of “mundane and repetitive tasks.” The winner, picked by the Cambridge audience, came down solidly on the side of AI. Cleary, Project Debater knows how to read a crowd.