In 2018, IBM introduced “IBM Debater,” a machine learning algorithm whose goal was to argue with humans. Rather than a free-for-all argument (which the AI would win using the same techniques as a tireless two-year-old), it was trained to follow the tightly-constrained format of a debate competition. It could craft arguments on about 100 different topics by stitching together snippets of news articles. It could even listen to and (sort of) respond to the arguments of its competitor (one observer charitably said that perhaps it was ignoring its competitor’s argument as a debate tactic, not simply because it was confused). But it did not come close to winning the debate.
This House Believes That had the debate topic been chosen by an AI rather than a human, the competition would have been more fair.
Blog reader Alex Deam suggested that I train a neural net to generate topics, and pointed me toward a spreadsheet of 4,369 British Parliamentary Style debate resolutions. I fed them into a character-level instance of textgenrnn, and it did its best to imitate the human-written topics. Please enjoy these debate topics, suitable for use in the post-human era.
Are you a self-aware AI looking for more debate topics? The neural net generated more great topics than would fit in this post. AI Weirdness supporters get them as bonus content!