IBM has opened its AI tool Project Debater up to the public for the first time.

The news: The Project Debater program uses AI software to parse text to construct arguments. It’s the basis for a crowdsourced debating platform called Speech by Crowd, being showcased at CES in Las Vegas today. This collects views for and against a proposition and then crafts a speech for each side, based on the submissions. The system will go up against a world champion debater at the THINK 2019 conference in San Francisco in February.

Background: IBM Research has been working on the AI software that powers Project Debater since 2011, as a follow-on from the project that prepared its Watson system to play Jeopardy!, and first unveiled it in June 2017.

Some caveats: Although it’s further proof that AI machines are making progress at skills previously reserved for people (arguing), the system doesn’t understand what it’s talking about or the wider context, as Will Knight explains.

Uses: IBM is pitching the tool as a way to help people summarize arguments and reach conclusions, hoping it’ll appeal to fields like politics, academia, law, and even business.