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February 07, 2024

An AI Debate

Resolved: Vermont should devote available limited resources only to mitigating the effects of climate change rather than attempting to prevent it.

DebateteamThe debate far below is between AI “agents” This post is about a positive use of AI and suggestions for further use. The debate is just an example. But the proposition debated here interests me as well. I posted some on the substance here and will post more in the future.

An AI agent (sometimes called an assistant) is an interface to a large language model (like ChatGPT) bundled with instructions giving it a special role and optionally tools and data which help it perform that role. Agents collaborate with each other and optionally with humans to perform a task AI (often in the form of a chat manager agent) guides the collaboration and decides when the task has been accomplished. These agents are all getting their intelligence from ChatGPT. Using a tool called AutoBuilder from Microsoft, I instructed ChatGPT to create a team of agents including a moderator and a judge capable of debating any proposition given to them. It took a couple of hours for me to get it working right since I had to learn to use AutoBuilder, which is not quite ready for use by non-nerdy people.

The debate illustrates how quickly and easily tools can be built with AI. The debate format is a useful way to quickly get both sides of an argument as well as some of the more obvious rebuttals. When I do post more on the substance of whether Vermont should devote its resources to preventing climate change rather than to mitigation, I’ll use the debate as a checklist to see if I’ve missed arguments or obvious flaws in arguments. It would be more helpful if I had the agents do research and present links but that’s an enhancement for another day.

This tool could serve as the basis for debate training or debate practice if humans rather than agents played the role of one or more of the debaters.

Having AI argue with itself is a way to counter the tendency of large language models like ChatGPT from making up plausible but hallucinatory answers to questions. Bot checking bot would be even more powerful if different LLMs were behind the various agents, which could be done relatively easily. This quality control on LLM output the same way that inspectors inspect (or should inspect) factory output. The Fact or Fiction GPT I posted about here is an example of a bot being used as quality control on human writing.

Collaborative teams of agents and humans are part of the immediate future of how many people will work. The debate is just an example. There could be, for example, a product team with marker-researcher, designer, programmer (agents can write code!), tester, and social media agents. Humans can play some of these roles and have input into all of them if the collaboration is so designed.

If you’d like to have the toy I built debate a subject of your choice, you can so here. It’s dead simple to use and requires no installation; but the catch is you have be enough into AI to have a paid API key from OpenAI. If you don’t know what that is, you don’t want to get one just to challenge the debate team.

If you are a nerd and want to build your won debate team, enhance the one I built, or just see how the AutoBuilder tool works, it’s all open source at https://github.com/tevslin/debate_team.

The generated debate is below.

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affirmative_constructive_speaker (to chat_manager):

As a constructive affirmative debater, I will present arguments in favor of the proposition that Vermont should devote its available limited resources to mitigating the effects of climate change rather than attempting to prevent it.

**1. Proportionality of Impact:**

Vermont, as a small state, contributes a relatively minuscule amount to global greenhouse gas emissions. Even if Vermont were to invest heavily in prevention, the global impact would be negligible. Therefore, it is more pragmatic for Vermont to focus on adaptation strategies that protect its citizens and infrastructure from the inevitable effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events, rather than attempting to significantly alter global emission trajectories.

**2. Immediate Benefits:**

Mitigation efforts provide immediate and tangible benefits to the local population. By investing in infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather, improving emergency response systems, and enhancing the resilience of agricultural practices, Vermont can ensure that its residents are better protected against the current and increasing impacts of climate change.

**3. Economic Prudence:**

The economic argument for focusing on mitigation is strong. The costs associated with climate-related disasters can be astronomical, and by investing in mitigation now, Vermont can avoid much larger expenses in the future. This is not only fiscally responsible but also ensures that the state's limited resources are used in a way that provides the most benefit to its residents.

**4. Social Equity:**

Mitigation efforts can be designed to prioritize the most vulnerable communities in Vermont, which are often the hardest hit by climate change. By focusing on adaptation, the state can address social inequities and ensure that all Vermonters have the resources and support they need to cope with the effects of climate change.

**5. Encouraging Innovation:**

Investing in mitigation can spur innovation in areas such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and resilient construction practices. This not only helps Vermont deal with the effects of climate change but also positions the state as a leader in developing technologies and strategies that can be exported and implemented elsewhere.

**6. Global Responsibility:**

While prevention is a global responsibility, mitigation is a local necessity. Vermont can act as a model for other states and regions by demonstrating how to effectively adapt to climate change, thereby fulfilling its global responsibility through leadership and example.

In conclusion, given Vermont's limited resources and the broader context of global emissions, it is both strategic and necessary for the state to prioritize mitigation of the effects of climate change. This approach ensures the well-being of its residents, the sustainability of its economy, and the resilience of its communities.

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negative_construction_speaker (to chat_manager):

As the negative constructive speaker, I will present arguments opposing the proposition that Vermont should devote its available limited resources only to mitigating the effects of climate change rather than attempting to prevent it.

**1. Ethical Responsibility:**

Vermont, like all states, has an ethical responsibility to contribute to the prevention of climate change, not merely to adapt to its consequences. By focusing solely on mitigation, Vermont would be neglecting its duty to future generations who will face the compounded effects of today's inaction. Prevention is a shared global burden, and every entity, regardless of size, must partake in the collective effort to reduce emissions.

**2. Long-Term Strategic Investment:**

Investing in prevention is a long-term strategic investment. While mitigation addresses the symptoms of climate change, prevention tackles the root cause. By investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other preventative measures, Vermont can help slow the progression of climate change, ultimately reducing the severity and cost of future mitigation efforts.

**3. Economic Opportunities:**

Prevention efforts can also drive economic growth and job creation. Developing a green economy through investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies can create new industries and employment opportunities. This can diversify Vermont's economy and make it more resilient to the economic disruptions that climate change may bring.

**4. Leveraging Influence:**

Vermont's commitment to prevention can have an outsized influence beyond its borders. By setting ambitious targets for emission reductions and implementing progressive environmental policies, Vermont can inspire other states and countries to follow suit. Leadership in prevention can enhance Vermont's reputation and influence in national and international discussions on climate policy.

**5. Risk Management:**

Relying solely on mitigation is a risky strategy that assumes the state can adequately adapt to all future climate-related challenges. However, the pace and scale of climate change may outstrip Vermont's ability to respond, leading to irreversible damage. Prevention reduces this risk by aiming to limit the severity of climate change itself.

**6. Moral Leadership:**

Vermont has a history of environmental leadership and moral authority on progressive issues. By investing in prevention, Vermont can continue to lead by example, demonstrating that even small states can make meaningful contributions to a global challenge. This moral leadership can galvanize action and support for climate initiatives within and beyond its borders.

In conclusion, while mitigation is undoubtedly important, it is not sufficient on its own. Vermont should balance its efforts between mitigation and prevention to address both the immediate and long-term challenges of climate change. This balanced approach is not only more ethical and strategic but also offers economic benefits and aligns with Vermont's legacy of environmental stewardship and moral leadership.

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affirmative_rebuttal_speaker (to chat_manager):

As the affirmative rebuttal speaker, I will now address the points made by the negative team and reinforce the proposition that Vermont should focus its limited resources on mitigating the effects of climate change rather than attempting to prevent it.

**1. Ethical Responsibility:**

The negative team argues that Vermont has an ethical responsibility to contribute to the prevention of climate change. While this is a noble sentiment, it overlooks the practical limitations of Vermont's influence on global emissions. Ethical responsibility must be balanced with pragmatic action. Vermont's ethical duty extends to protecting its own citizens from the immediate threats posed by climate change, which is best achieved through targeted mitigation efforts.

**2. Long-Term Strategic Investment:**

The negative team suggests that prevention is a long-term strategic investment. However, the urgency of climate change requires immediate action. Mitigation is not merely addressing symptoms; it is a proactive approach to safeguarding Vermont's communities right now. Furthermore, the long-term benefits of prevention are uncertain, given the state's small contribution to global emissions, whereas the benefits of mitigation are concrete and immediate.

**3. Economic Opportunities:**

While the negative team points to economic opportunities in prevention, it is important to note that mitigation efforts also drive economic growth. For example, investments in resilient infrastructure can create jobs in construction, engineering, and urban planning. Moreover, mitigation can stimulate innovation in sectors directly relevant to Vermont's needs, such as sustainable forestry and agriculture.

**4. Leveraging Influence:**

The argument that Vermont's commitment to prevention can influence others is speculative. Vermont's true influence lies in its ability to showcase successful adaptation strategies. By becoming a living laboratory for effective mitigation, Vermont can provide a replicable model for others to follow, which is a more tangible form of influence than setting ambitious but potentially unattainable emission reduction targets.

**5. Risk Management:**

The negative team's claim that relying solely on mitigation is risky fails to recognize that prevention efforts are equally, if not more, uncertain. The pace of global emissions reduction is slow and unpredictable, whereas the impacts of climate change are immediate and escalating. Vermont must manage the risks it faces today, which are best mitigated through local action.

**6. Moral Leadership:**

Finally, the negative team's appeal to Vermont's moral leadership overlooks the fact that leadership can take many forms. Vermont can lead morally and effectively by demonstrating how a state can adapt to and thrive in the face of climate change. This is a powerful form of leadership that resonates with the immediate needs and concerns of people around the world.

In summary, while prevention is an important aspect of the global response to climate change, Vermont's limited resources must be allocated to where they will have the most significant impact. Mitigation offers immediate protection, economic benefits, and a practical form of leadership that aligns with Vermont's capacity and the urgent needs of its citizens.

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negative_rebuttal_speaker (to chat_manager):

As the negative rebuttal speaker, I will now address the points made by the affirmative team and reinforce the stance that Vermont should not solely focus on mitigating the effects of climate change but also invest in prevention.

**1. Proportionality of Impact:**

The affirmative team argues that Vermont's contribution to global emissions is minuscule and therefore should focus on mitigation. This argument fails to consider the cumulative effect of every small contribution. If every small state or entity adopts this mindset, the collective inaction would be significant. Vermont's efforts in prevention, though seemingly small, are part of a global tapestry of climate action necessary to effect change.

**2. Immediate Benefits:**

While mitigation provides immediate benefits, prevention has the potential to reduce the need for such measures in the long term. By investing in prevention, Vermont can help slow the rate of climate change, which may reduce the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, ultimately benefiting the local population in a more sustainable and enduring way.

**3. Economic Prudence:**

The affirmative team's economic argument for mitigation overlooks the long-term economic benefits of prevention. Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency not only contributes to emission reductions but also can lead to energy independence, lower energy costs, and a more sustainable economy for Vermont in the long run.

**4. Social Equity:**

The affirmative team suggests that mitigation efforts can prioritize vulnerable communities. However, prevention can also be designed with social equity in mind. For example, energy efficiency programs can lower utility bills for low-income households, and renewable energy projects can provide jobs and investment in disadvantaged areas.

**5. Encouraging Innovation:**

While mitigation can spur innovation, so can prevention. Vermont's investment in prevention technologies can lead to advancements in renewable energy and energy efficiency, which are critical sectors for the future. These innovations can then be shared globally, contributing to the prevention of climate change on a larger scale.

**6. Global Responsibility:**

The affirmative team posits that mitigation is a local necessity while prevention is a global responsibility. However, this dichotomy is false. Global responsibility includes local action in prevention. Vermont can and should contribute to both global prevention efforts and local mitigation strategies, as they are not mutually exclusive.

In conclusion, the affirmative team's arguments for focusing solely on mitigation do not adequately address the importance and benefits of prevention. Vermont should strive for a balanced approach that includes both mitigation and prevention, ensuring the state fulfills its ethical obligations, maximizes long-term economic benefits, and contributes to global efforts to combat climate change.

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debate_judge (to chat_manager):

**Constructive Affirmative Speaker:**

Relevance: 5

Evidence: 4

Effectiveness: 4

Feedback: The speaker provided a well-structured argument with clear points supporting the proposition. The emphasis on the proportionality of impact and immediate benefits was compelling. However, the argument could be strengthened with more specific data on Vermont's emissions and examples of successful mitigation strategies already in place.

**Negative Constructive Speaker:**

Relevance: 5

Evidence: 4

Effectiveness: 4

Feedback: The speaker effectively countered the proposition with a strong ethical stance and a focus on long-term strategic investment. The economic opportunities and risk management points were particularly persuasive. To improve, the speaker could benefit from incorporating more Vermont-specific examples of how prevention efforts have led to economic growth.

**Affirmative Rebuttal Speaker:**

Relevance: 5

Evidence: 3

Effectiveness: 4

Feedback: The rebuttal was on point, directly addressing the negative team's arguments. The speaker effectively argued the urgency of action and the practicality of mitigation. However, the rebuttal would be more convincing with additional evidence supporting the immediate benefits of mitigation over the long-term uncertainty of prevention.

**Negative Rebuttal Speaker:**

Relevance: 5

Evidence: 4

Effectiveness: 4

Feedback: The speaker provided a strong rebuttal to the affirmative's points, emphasizing the importance of a cumulative approach to prevention. The arguments about the long-term economic benefits and social equity were well-articulated. To enhance the argument, the speaker could include more information on how other small states or entities have successfully influenced global climate action through prevention efforts

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