Artificial intelligence wins a debate against a human—twice
Please tell me that Internet trolls didn't just get a huge leg up.
In the year 1770, a chess-playing "automaton" known as The Turk debuted in Vienna, Austria. It appeared to beat humans at chess, losing very rarely. It was actually an elaborate hoax, with a human being as the real champion chess player, manipulating the Turk via mechanical means from inside.
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
It took another 227 years for an actual computer to beat humans at playing chess in 1997. Now, 22 years later, an A.I. created by IBM—represented by a black box on stage but actually consisting of a group of computers in one of IBM's data centers—named Project Debater has defeated humans in the art of debate. Twice.
The judges were around two dozen panelists who listened as Project Debater took on Noa Ovadia over her position that governments shouldn't fund space exploration and, according to the judges, the machine won. Next, it went up against debater Dan Zafrir, with Project Debater taking a position that telemedicine is a good thing and needs to be increased.
In both cases, the arguments were prepared by the computer by researching millions of online articles and documents in real time, after it was presented the subject to argue. Then, it formulated its position, and finally, successfully defended it against attack.
Project Debater closed the telemedicine argument with a bit of humor. "I can't say it makes my blood boil, because I have no blood, but it seems some people naturally suspect technology because it's new."
Aya Soffer, who runs IBM Research's global Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) team, summed up why the company is working on the project.
"From our perspective, the debate format is the means and not the end. It's a way to push the technology forward and part of our bigger strategy of mastering language. In general, computers are lagging significantly in understanding and being able to express themselves. If we expect A.I. to be useful, being able to communicate with people is critical."
To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?
Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways.
The inequalities impact everything from education to health.
Astrophysicist Michelle Thaller talks ISS and why NICER is so important.
- Being outside of Earth's atmosphere while also being able to look down on the planet is both a challenge and a unique benefit for astronauts conducting important and innovative experiments aboard the International Space Station.
- NASA astrophysicist Michelle Thaller explains why one such project, known as NICER (Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer), is "one of the most amazing discoveries of the last year."
- Researchers used x-ray light data from NICER to map the surface of neutrons (the spinning remnants of dead stars 10-50 times the mass of our sun). Thaller explains how this data can be used to create a clock more accurate than any on Earth, as well as a GPS device that can be used anywhere in the galaxy.
Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.