All of us who have spent any time on the internet have wasted our time debating unfeeling, non-human entities. They’re called trolls. IBM, however, has taken a more technological approach, and soon the heartless monster you find yourself arguing with might not be at the computer, but it will be the computer.
This video, starting at the 47 minute mark, shows a demonstration of the Watson supercomputer’s ability to scan data and construct arguments, pro and con. When asked to debate the topic of “The Sale of Violent Video Games to Minors Should Be Banned,” Watson quickly scans Wikipedia, reads 10 articles about the topic, and use that data to come up with three supporting statement for each side.
Watson’s answers are a little repetitive and maybe a little less than a top human debater would be proud of. On the pro side it harps on statements that games cause aggression way too much. On the con side it simply says the opposite of that statement, that there is no causal link between games and aggression. That’s a recipe for a deadlocked argument unless one side can prove its supporting information superior.
On the other hand, compared to, say, a Youtube comments section, Watson is significantly more logical and much more grammatical. Also, not one racist or homophobic slur.
Dr. John Kelly with IBM Research says that Watson is the future of computing, and that one day it and its instant access to a huge store of knowledge might take a valued seat in a debate about, for example, a medical procedure.
“Completely unaided by humans the system went through all of this knowledge and constructed and ‘reasoned,’ on its own. Now think about what this means. It’s no longer a game, man vs. machine, it’s man and machine working together,” Kelly said.
I, on the other hand, see greater possibilities than simply saving lives and improving mankind and all of that mushy stuff. Because if Watson can argue on the internet and argue both sides of a topic better and faster than most people, then there’s no more use for human flamewars. Let’s let it do all of our internet arguing for us. Then we can find better uses for our time.