How long will it be before an Artificial Intelligence can beat a human at debating?

For the moment, at least, humans have the edge just as they did for several years before losing to IBM’s Watson AI in chess and in Jeopardy! And a Google AI has prevailed at Go. But …

Monday night on the west coast, IBM pitted its six-year-old and still developing Project Debater AI – called “Miss Debater” as it has a feminine voice – against Harish Natarajan, a grand finalist in the 2016 World Debating Championships.

The subject: Subsidizing of preschools.

“[C]ocky computer shows AI is getting better at arguing,” declared British tech news site The Inquirer.

“Unfortunately for IBM, the AI bot lost the debate, which was scored based on how many people that made up the audience changed their minds. Before the debate, 79 per cent agreed with the position in favor of preschool subsidies, but afterwards, the figure dropped 17 percentage points to 62 per cent.”

The competition included three rounds – openings, rebuttals, summaries.

And the debat sparked a lot of media interest.

Other headlines about the event offer different takes and perspectives:

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