The Debater

The Debater Film

After Noam Slonim’s sitcom was canceled, he took the next logical step and decided to build an artificial intelligence that could argue with him, and anyone else. What begins as a quixotic obsession turns into a once in a lifetime research effort that culminates in a face-off with the world debating champion.


After Noam Slonim’s sitcom was canceled, he took the next logical step and decided to build an artificial intelligence that could argue with him, and anyone else. What begins as a quixotic obsession turns into a once in a lifetime research effort that culminates in a face-off with the world debating champion.

Watch a live panel discussion at CPH:Dox 2020 about the first AI system that can debate humans

Experts from ‘The Debater’, a Joshua Davis and Harry Spitzer documentary, discussed what happens when AI stops playing games.

The panel included: Noam Slomin (IBM Research Principal Investigator), Hayah Goldlist Eichler (IBM debating consultant) and Harish Natarajan (world champion debater). Hosted by Nikolaj Sonne (TV host and technology expert).

Watch a live panel discussion at CPH:Dox 2020 about the first AI system that can debate humans

What happens when AI stops playing games?


Artificial intelligence has been on a seemingly unstoppable march. Human champions have been bested at checkers, chess, go, poker, and Jeopardy. But all of those are games. What happens when AI ventures out into the real world of human discourse and acts more like us? That’s what Noam Slonim wanted to find out. After a questionable career writing sitcoms in Tel Aviv, Slonim decided to build an artificial intelligence that could argue with you. After a six year, IBM-backed effort, Slonim’s creation faced off against a debating world champion in San Francisco in February 2019. The Debater is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the maturation of a powerful new artificial intelligence. It tells the story of an eclectic team of researchers that dare to take AI into uncharted territory, and explores what it means to live in a world where AI helps us make better decisions—particularly in the era of fake news and ideology echo chambers.

People to know


The Researcher

Noam Slonim

Dr. Noam Slonim is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and the Principal Investigator of Project Debater: the fist first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics.

The Team Lead

Ranit Aharonov

Dr. Ranit Aharonov was previously the manager of the Project Debater team at IBM Research based in Haifa, Israel, but has recently moved to IBM's lab in Almaden, California, where she is investigating scalable knowledge intelligence.

The Machine

Project Debater

Project Debater is the first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. The goal is to help people build persuasive arguments and make well-informed decisions.

The Opponent

Harish Natarajan

Harish Natarajan, a widely recognized debate champion, was a grand finalist at the 2016 World Debating Championships and winner of the European Debating Championship in 2012.

The Researcher

Noam Slonim

A comedy writer with a failed career behind him, IBM Distinguished Engineer Noam Slonim becomes the Principal Investigator of Project Debater: the fist first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics.

The Team Lead

Ranit Aharonov

Dr. Ranit Aharonov was previously the manager of the Project Debater team at IBM Research based in Haifa, Israel, but has recently moved to IBM's lab in Almaden, California, where she is investigating scalable knowledge intelligence.

The Machine

Project Debater

Project Debater is the first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. The goal is to help people build persuasive arguments and make well-informed decisions.

The Opponent

Harish Natarajan

Harish Natarajan, a widely recognized debate champion, was a grand finalist at the 2016 World Debating Championships and winner of the European Debating Championship in 2012.

Gallery


About the technology


Project Debater

Project Debater is the first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. The goal is to help people build persuasive arguments and make well-informed decisions. Project Debater relies on three pioneering capabilities: data-driven speech writing and delivery, listening comprehension, and the modeling of human dilemmas.


Speech by Crowd

Project Debater - Speech by Crowd 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.


Watson Natural Language Understanding

The IBM Watson team has announced the first commercial release of key Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities from IBM Research’s Project Debater.