Video from the 2012-13 Global Debate Final Round


There is consensus among the tournament organizers that a topic primer is not needed this year for the prelims.  They will re-evaluate prior to the elim rounds.  Please consider any information below purely advisory. 

The 2019-20 topic is Resolved: :  On-balance, the risks of artificial intelligence outweigh the rewards  BACKGROUND 


The earliest successful AI program was written in 1951 by Christopher Strachey, later director of the Programming Research Group at the University of Oxford. Strachey’s checkers (draughts) program ran on the Ferranti Mark I computer at the University of Manchester, England. By the summer of 1952 this program could play a complete game of checkers at a reasonable speed.

Information about the earliest successful demonstration of machine learning was published in 1952. Shopper, written by Anthony Oettinger at the University of Cambridge, ran on the EDSAC computer. Shopper’s simulated world was a mall of eight shops. When instructed to purchase an item, Shopper would search for it, visiting shops at random until the item was found. While searching, Shopper would memorize a few of the items stocked in each shop visited (just as a human shopper might). The next time Shopper was sent out for the same item, or for some other item that it had already located, it would go to the right shop straight away. This simple form of learning, as is pointed out in the introductory section What is intelligence?, is called rote learning.

The first AI program to run in the United States also was a checkers program, written in 1952 by Arthur Samuel for the prototype of the IBM 701. Samuel took over the essentials of Strachey’s checkers program and over a period of years considerably extended it. In 1955 he added features that enabled the program to learn from experience. Samuel included mechanisms for both rote learning and generalization, enhancements that eventually led to his program’s winning one game against a former Connecticut checkers champion in 1962.

In 1950 Turing sidestepped the traditional debate concerning the definition of intelligence, introducing a practical test for computer intelligence that is now known simply as the Turing test. The Turing test involves three participants: a computer, a human interrogator, and a human foil. The interrogator attempts to determine, by asking questions of the other two participants, which is the computer. All communication is via keyboard and display screen. The interrogator may ask questions as penetrating and wide-ranging as he or she likes, and the computer is permitted to do everything possible to force a wrong identification. (For instance, the computer might answer, “No,” in response to, “Are you a computer?” and might follow a request to multiply one large number by another with a long pause and an incorrect answer.) The foil must help the interrogator to make a correct identification. A number of different people play the roles of interrogator and foil, and, if a sufficient proportion of the interrogators are unable to distinguish the computer from the human being, then (according to proponents of Turing’s test) the computer is considered an intelligent, thinking entity.

In 1991 the American philanthropist Hugh Loebner started the annual Loebner Prize competition, promising a $100,000 payout to the first computer to pass the Turing test and awarding $2,000 each year to the best effort. However, no AI program has come close to passing an undiluted Turing test.

In recent years more has been written about artificial intelligence in technology and business publications than ever before: the current wave of artificial intelligence innovations has caught the attention of virtually everyone, not in the least because of artificial intelligence fears.

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t new but this time it’s different. Cognitive systems and AI are innovation accelerators of the nascent digital transformation economy.

The evolution of AI-powered innovations and solutions in a myriad of areas has led to numerous articles and reports on the value of AI and its application across a wide range of domains, as well as the necessity and possibilities of artificial intelligence in a hyperconnected reality of people, information, processes, devices, technologies and transformations. Artificial intelligence in business is a reality.

It’s important to remember that Musk, Gates, Hawking and many others are not “against” artificial intelligence.  What they are warning about are the potential dangers of superintelligence (as we start seeing in some neural networks), maybe even intelligence we don’t understand. And is there anything humans fear more than what they can possibly not understand? To quote Tom Koulopoulos: “The real shift will be when computers think in ways we can’t even begin to understand”.

When Bill Gates expressed his concerns about AI this is what he said, according to an article on Quartz: “I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”

In more than one way it’s a pity that AI is associated with what it could become (and what it was in previous waves when it failed to deliver upon its promises) instead of what it is today.
Artificial intelligence is far from a thing of the future. It exists today in business applications, clearly offering multiple benefits to the organizations using these solutions. It exists in so many platforms we use on a daily basis. Admittedly, it’s not here in the sense of super intelligence.

At a 2016 symposium by the Future of Life Institute, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt (and others) adviced the “AI community to “rally around three goals”:
1.   AI should benefit the many, not the few.
2.   AI R&D should be open, responsible and socially engaged.
3.   Developers of AI should establish best practices to minimize risks and maximize the beneficial impact.

​The ability to reason logically is an important aspect of intelligence and has always been a major focus of AI research. An important landmark in this area was a theorem-proving program written in 1955–56 by Allen Newell and J. Clifford Shaw of the RAND Corporation and Herbert Simon of the Carnegie Mellon University. The Logic Theorist, as the program became known, was designed to prove theorems from Principia Mathematica (1910–13), a three-volume work by the British philosopher-mathematicians Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell. In one instance, a proof devised by the program was more elegant than the proof given in the books.

Newell, Simon, and Shaw went on to write a more powerful program, the General Problem Solver, or GPS. The first version of GPS ran in 1957, and work continued on the project for about a decade. GPS could solve an impressive variety of puzzles using a trial and error approach. However, one criticism of GPS, and similar programs that lack any learning capability, is that the program’s intelligence is entirely secondhand, coming from whatever information the programmer explicitly includes.



Merriam Webster's Dictionary

 possibility of loss or injury : PERIL

Random House Dictionary

a situation involving exposure to danger


Merriam Webster's Dictionary

something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment


Oxford English Dictionary-- all things considered

MacMillian Dictionary

After considering all the relevant facts


Webster's Dictionary

AI-  the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

BJ Copeland Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Turing Archive for the History of Computing, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. Author of Artificial Intelligence and others.

the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience. Since the development of the digital computer in the 1940s, it has been demonstrated that computers can be programmed to carry out very complex tasks—as, for example, discovering proofs for mathematical theorems or playing chess—with great proficiency. Still, despite continuing advances in computer processing speed and memory capacity, there are as yet no programs that can match human flexibility over wider domains or in tasks requiring much everyday knowledge. On the other hand, some programs have attained the performance levels of human experts and professionals in performing certain specific tasks, so that artificial intelligence in this limited sense is found in applications as diverse as medical diagnosis, computer search engines, and voice or handwriting recognition.

The tournament officials will not interfere if teams choose to use either definition below or something similar and it is an issue that is up for robust debate beyond the terms listed above. 

Section 1: Eligibility

A) Eligibility for Domestic Competition
To be eligible for competition a student must be a matriculated undergraduate at NYU for the semester of competition.
A team for competition is to consist of two undergraduate students from any of the NYU schools in any combination (i.e., students from different schools may compete together on the same competitive team).
The organizers will make every effort to assist interested students who are unpaired in finding a partner.
Students may participate in the annual NYU Global Debate Program up to four times.

B) Eligibility for International Competition
To be eligible for competition a student must be a matriculated undergraduate NYU student enrolled at one of NYU's international study sites.
A team for competition is to consist of two undergraduate students from any of the NYU schools in any combination.
Students are strongly encouraged to find partners attending the same international study site.
Students may participate in the annual NYU Global Debate Program up to four times.

Section 2: Preliminary Competition

A) Domestic Tournament Rules
All competitors will be entered in a preliminary competition tournament.
The tournament will consist of three rounds on the same day.
Each round will contain five-minute constructive speeches, three-minute rebuttals, and two-minute cross examination. Each team will have five minutes of preparation time per round.
Judges will have an optional five minute cross-examination period.
Each student will complete one constructive, one rebuttal, one response to cross examination, and one questioning during cross examination per round.
Rounds will be judged by faculty of the University and special guest judges.
Within each round judges will assign a winner of the debate to one side only.
Judges will also assign each competitor a rank and a score reflective of their speaking. These points will be used to determine ties in ranking of teams.
Teams will first be ranked based on number of wins, then on team points, and finally team ranks.
The top teams will continue to the Elimination Tournament.
The continuing teams will be announced within three days of the close of preliminary competition.
Judges will write ballots explaining the basis of their decision. The decision of a judge may not be challenged in a round or changed once entered.
The preliminary tournament will be randomly matched for round one & two, and be power-paired for round three.
All tournament procedures, alterations, and questions shall be resolved by the Coordinator, who shall function as Tournament Director.

B) International Tournament Rules
All competitors will submit four-minute videos for the preliminary competition tournament before the annual deadline listed on the Announcements page.  
Videos will present arguments in favor of or against the resolution.

There is no specific time breakdown or formatting requirement for the videos [e.g students don't each have to speak for half the time].  All we require is that both students state their N numbers at the outset of the videos, each person speaks in the video, and that the teams take a clear stance on either side of the resolution.   

Any student who is later, confirmed as ineligible, [e.g not enrolled or other violation] by their local site will be disqualified and both their partner and themselves will be eliminated from the competition and their prize monies are forfeited.   
Judges will review and score each video submission.

Video upload locations will be tested one week before the deadline and confirmed on Twitter for all competitors.  You may email your video to or upload it to the NYU Classes site in .Mov or Mp4 prefererably. 
Teams will be ranked by points with ties broken on judge preference.
The continuing teams will be announced within five days of the close of preliminary competition.
Judges will write ballots explaining the basis of their scoring. The decision of a judge may not be challenged or changed once entered.
All tournament procedures, alterations, and questions shall be resolved by the Coordinator, who shall function as Tournament Director.

C) Elimination Round Rules
Speech and cross-examination times will remain the same as for the domestic prelim tournament.
Teams will be seeded based on the video submission ballots and the results of the domestic prelim tournament. Results will be pro-rated as required.
Each round will have a minimum of three judges.
Judges will have a twelve minute cross-examination period.
Each student will complete one constructive, and one rebuttal. Cross-examination periods may be shared.
Rounds will be judged by faculty, alumni, previous competitors and administrators of the University as well as special guest judges.
Within each round judges will assign a winner of the debate to one side only.
All tournament procedures, alterations, and questions shall be resolved by the Program Director, who shall function as Tournament Director.
The decision of the judges may not be challenged or changed once entered.
Each advancing team must provide one qualified judge for the elimination rounds.  A qualified judge is a faculty or staff member currently serving at NYU or an NYU alum.    
Advancing team members from Study Away locations and portal campuses will be responsible for booking their air travel arrangements with their local sites unless specifically told otherwise by the Director of the Global Debate Fund.  The Global Debate Fund will cover domestic meals, ground transportation and lodging.
Section 3: Payment Processing


A) Treaty Withholding

Payments issued to individuals classified as non-resident aliens are subject to 30% withholding based on treaty status with the United States. Please contact Financelink and complete the Glacier process to learn if your payments have a treaty exemption or will be subject to Although the employee never completed the Glacier process, if Glacier indicated that he was taxable, it would also be a 30% withholding. If you need to fill out Glacier/GTP information, cut and paste this link into your browser  Glacier information is near the bottom of the page.  

B) Wire Transfers

GDP will be using wire transfers to make payments to international competitors.  Students who advanced to elimination rounds that wish to be paid through wire transfers must provide the following basic information to the GDP staff through a secure NYU-approved means by April 25th.  Bank Name. Bank Address, Bank Account Holder's Name, Account Holder's Address, Account Number, IFSC Code, Switch Code & Branch code.  A letter from your bank stating that information is sufficient.  The information will then be reviewed by Finance.  Based on the banking rules of your country you may be asked to provide other information included but not limited to IBAN/routing # or equivalent; Swift Code, Sort Code or Payment purpose code. 

C) Award Form Submissions and Payment

To receive ANY award, students must submit their Participant Confirmation Letter, a photo and requested biographical information by the stated deadline. Lastly, students will complete either a W-9 [] for US students or a W-8BEN [] for international students. There are specific Stern award forms and expense forms for the Global Debate competition.  All forms will be completed during a mandatory orientation session on Championship Weekend where we will indicate the required information and the required spaces to complete.  If your forms are not submitted by the beginning of the awards ceremony with the correct information. the GDP reserves the right to cancel your award.    

D) Fees and Penalties
Students are responsible for any and all fees associated with changes in travel arrangements after the initial booking whether handled by the Global Debate Fund or not.  Fees arising from flight cancellations, non-participation, or non-compliance with housing policies resulting in additional charges [e.g damage, failure to return keys or other violations] will be deducted from the involved students' prize monies.    

E) Partner Substitutions  

In the rare event, if a student cannot participate in the elimination rounds in NY for any reason, they will be entitled to a maximum of $50 regardless of how far their partner advances.  The partner will have one week to secure a new partner if their exit is prior to one month before the elimination rounds.  Students who competed in either the domestic or international prelims in that semester and did not advance are ineligible to be substitutes.  If the competitor exits with less than one month's written notice or the remaining partner does not secure a replacement in a week, the GDP will select a replacement from its reserve pool. 

Section 4: Rights and Responsibilities of Competitors
Any student competitor will be free to ask for additional instruction or advice at any time via appointment. The Coordinator will be an impartial resource for all competitors.

All competitors will be entitled to the Debate Resource Bibliography.

All competitors may ask faculty of the University for advice on issues related to topic and argument.

All competitors will need to book travel arrangements through their local campus unless otherwise informed in writing by the Global Debate Fund staff. 

All competitors will be expected to uphold the ethical considerations of academic discourse in the process of competition and to represent the University, their school, and themselves to the best of their ability.

A 15 minute forfeit rule will be in place for head-to-head competitions during each phase of the domestic tournament.

Teams may work together and practice with other teams prior to competition to maximize preparation.

Student awards may be subject to additional terms of disbursement by the University pending legal and tax obligations.

If one competitor from a team is unable to participate in the elimination rounds due to verified medical reasons or visa problems, the remaining competitor will be able to secure a different partner for the elimination rounds. If a competitor from a team chooses not to participate for any other reason, the remaining competitor will have the option to debate singly or forfeit their elimination rounds. In any event, no single-member team will be permitted to advance past the semifinal round under any circumstances. The team member who did not compete will receive the octofinal award regardless of how far their partner advances.  

Students who were previously eliminated from either the domestic or international competition are not eligible to be secured as replacement partners.

Each member of all sixteen advancing teams agree to be present for all scheduled events organized by the sponsors including the elimination rounds, any welcome reception, the awards ceremony and the Championship Final Round. Failure to attend these events will lead to forfeiture of their award.

Section 4: What is Debate? 
Debate, as a game or competition, is when two sides agree to oppose each other on the same topic. This, in theory, offers the best test of the ideas.

Our Game:
The Topic: The Resolution will be a statement that something should be done or reflected upon.
The affirmative team supports or contends that this is a good idea, and why.
The negative team contends that this should not be done, and why.
*Key Point: The game assumes that we argue what should be done, not would be done. The negative should avoid arguments about rejection by the government. The negative can make arguments about why it is antithetical to the values of the government or why it may not feasibly work, but the debate does NOT focus on whether or not the government would ever choose to do such an action. 
(Hint: Refer to Strunk and White's Elements of Style for further would/should distinctions.)

A Distinction: What Debate is NOT
Debate is not ARGUING (in the traditional sense)

Debate = Clash of ideas

Therefore, arguments in a DEBATE take on a specific structure:
Claim (opinion, statement)
Warrant (Reasoning behind the claim)
Facts/Data/Evidence to support the reasoning

This structure requires all statements in a debate to have the best support possible and gives multiple ways for ideas to clash:



Claim         <-----  

Warrant     <-----

Evidence                  <-----

An argument can attack the claim, but it can also attack the warrant or the evidence.
The possibilities for clash are increased when a person may agree with someone's claim in a debate, but may disagree about the warrants or the interpretation of the evidence.

Evaluate the evidence!
Refute the arguments!


Claim: We are having particularly nice weather
Warrant: nice weather; it is very enjoyable.
Evidence: Today is sunny, not too windy and warm for November. It's in the high 60s. It was close to 80 degrees in Washington, D.C. this weekend.


1. It is always temperate in fall in NYC, so it is not particularly nice.

2. It is still cool, and a bit windy, and it will be much colder earlier with shorter days.

3. We just had a downpour Sunday night weather in the NE is very temperamental.

4. And it was TOO hot in D.C.

5. We're actually due for one of the snowiest winders this year, so it won't last.

There are eight speeches in the debate. The first four are five minutes each, followed by cross-examinations from the other team.
1st Aff. Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Negative (2 minutes)
1st Neg Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Aff (2 minutes)
2nd Aff. Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Neg. (2 minutes)
2nd Neg. Speech (5 minutes) | Cross-ex. By Aff. (2 minutes)
In these speeches, put out your arguments, supporting data, and, initial responses to the other side.



The next four speeches are three minutes long, and called REBUTTALS.
1st Negative Rebuttal (3 minutes) | 1st Affirmative Rebuttal (3 minutes)
2nd Negative Rebuttal (3 minutes) | 2nd Affirmative Rebuttal (3 minutes)
These speeches are the comparison of the merits of the arguments.

 Strategic Tips by Speech
Use cross-ex's strategically
a. Get clarity on your opponent's points so you respond accurately.
b. Lead your opponent to answer questions to set up arguments in your next speech.
Choose who asks cross-ex's strategically 
a. Do you want the person speaking next to ask questions to set up their speech?
b. Do you want the person speaking next to not ask questions so the can prepare?
c. Do both?
3. All: Use cross-ex's. to establish credibility and control.

1st Aff. Speech: Establish the reasons the U.S. should adopt a policy of universal community service.
Two Choices:
Defend the idea in general
Defend a specific course of action (implementation) [Example: Americorps should administer...]
Paint a picture of why this world would be better/beneficial (consequences/advantages)
Define your ideas clearly
*This may be the best time to refer to supporting evidence
**Speech can be pre-written

1st Neg Speech: Establish the reasons the U.S. should not adopt such a policy. Identify flaws in Aff. arguments.
Types of Arguments:
Evaluate the consequences of the policy (world worse)
Issues affected by such a policy the Aff. does not address
Attack assumptions of affirmative
Argue philosophical opposition
*Some of this speech can be prewritten, some should be direct responses

2nd Aff. Speech: Engage and respond to the negative arguments specifically. Compare to your reasons for supporting the policy.
Continue justifying your own arguments by both referring to and elaborating on what was previously said, and by adding new points if there is time.

2nd Negative Speech:

AND           ----->  These are very similar, try to avoid repetition!

1st Negative Rebuttal:
The negative should develop its reasoning in depth, perhaps dividing arguments between speakers. This is the negative key time to develop their side.
*Here would be the best point for citing data and evidence.
Give evidence and warrants to all claims.
The rebuttal should begin comparing the validity of these claims.

1st Aff. Rebuttal:
Highlight your best arguments AND your side's best responses to negative arguments.As this is a short speech, try to reference previous ideas to save time. Focus on the key ideas to bring clarity to the issues.

2nd Negative Rebuttal:
Pick the issues you're winning on. (Trust me, you're not winning on everything!)
Explain why those issues mean you win the debate.
Predict the aff's best arguments and pre-empt them explain how you've refuted them already or they are less important. (Malcolm X speech example)

2nd Aff. Rebuttal:
Identify your best claims, how they are supported, and why they should win the debate.

*Give the judge criteria for evaluation



Use notes to keep track of what you said AND what your opponent said so that you remember what to respond to.

Develop an abbreviation system to help yourself with notes (and that your partner understands)

Create some kind of organization to notes: i.e. columns for what was said and responded to.


1AS          1NS            2AS               2NR
1)             1)              1) A.              1).

2)             2)              2)                  2)

3)              3)             3) No answer  3)

*Different papers for different ideas can be used




after considering all the relevant facts

On balance, I think we made the right decis

  1. a situation involving exposure to danger.