From Israel comes a report that AI is being developed with the idea of offering alternatives to democratic voting.
As literally dehumanizing as that sounds, it provides insight into the minds of AI innovators like Dr. Noam Slonim, part of an IBM Research Lab endeavor dubbed “Project Debater.”
The abilities of AI developed by the initiative were previewed recently in a debate between AI intelligence, and humans. It scored highly, even against elite debaters, as judged in a blind test by a virtual audience, who were provided transcripts of the encounters.
According to Slonim:
“The demonstration suggests AI may have the ability to participate in complex human activities. AI makes it possible to produce machines that can perform human tasks. The autonomous system can debate with humans in a meaningful way.”
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Currently around a hundred subjects can be discussed using the gadget, including topics like preschool subsidies, space exploration and telemedicine. It creates starting remarks and counter-arguments by sifting through a database of 400 million media stories and Wikipedia pages.
If that sounds suspect, considering the kinds of sources that probably aren’t part of the AI’s “database”, there are other problematic aspects to AI. For one thing, AI can never personally draw on any experience of what it is to be human. For another, it has little demonstrated ability to leverage knowledge that may seem to have nothing to do with a given subject, but which imaginative thinkers often excel in bringing to bear, in finding new answers and approaches to human endeavors. For example, Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of television, came upon his innovation from the way the farm tractor he drove as a teenager “broadcast” seeds in his family’s field.
Many people believe machines, unlike humans, lack soul. And they are certain that AI can have no actual concern for anything, human or not, though they may be equipped with the illusion of being able to demonstrate concern. That crucial lack is what concerns many thinkers, from moralists and theologians, to sci-fi authors, who say when it comes to the prospect of ceding decision-making powers in human affairs to AI, it’s a path to disaster.
But AI innovators like Slonim see things differently. He even postulated that AI might be better than humans exercising democratic voting, supposing that they could objectively advise CEO’s and politicians. 
“Imagine the Mayor of London considering more green space in the city. One approach could be to ask everyone to vote. But perhaps a more informed approach would be to collect the arguments pro and con from all citizens who might be impacted by the decision. With Project Debater technology we can do that and then summarize numerous arguments into their most prominent key-pointsalong with their prevalencefor the mayor to consider.”
Others see AI as capable of performing as “objective” arbiters of human speech rights. According to Chris Reed, a professor at the Centre for Argument Technology at the University of Dundee:
“Its successes offer a tantalizing glimpse of how an AI system could work with the web of arguments humans interpret with such apparent ease. Given the wildfires of fake news, the polarization of public opinion and the ubiquity of lazy reasoning, that ease belies an urgent need for humans to be supported in creating, processing, navigating and sharing complex argumentssupport that AI might be able to supply.”

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