By Harry SPITZER, Joshua DAVIS


Documentary - Completed 2019

After Noam Slonim’s sitcom was canceled, the down-and-out comedy writer decided to build an artificial intelligence that could argue with him. What begins as a quixotic obsession turns into a six-year research effort that culminates in a face-off with the world debating champion.

& Awards

CPH:DOX 2020
    • Year of production
    • 2019
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 0.3 - 0.6 M$
    • Duration
    • 20 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Harry SPITZER, Joshua DAVIS
    • Producer(s)
    • Kiana MOORE
    • Synopsis
    • Artificial intelligence has been on a seemingly unstoppable march. Human champions have been bested at checkers, chess, go, poker, and Jeopardy. But all those are games. What happens when AI ventures out into the real world of human discourse and acts more like us?

      That’s what Noam Slonim wanted to find out. After a questionable career writing sitcoms in Tel Aviv, Slonim decided to build an artificial intelligence that could argue with you. It was a quixotic undertaking that nobody thought would actually work. But after a six year, IBM-backed effort, Slonim’s creation faced off against a debating world champion in San Francisco in February 2019.

      The Debater is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the maturation of a powerful new artificial intelligence. It tells the story of an eclectic team of researchers that dare to take AI into uncharted territory, and explores what it means to live in a world where AI helps us make better decisions—particularly in the era of fake news and ideology echo chambers.