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On-leave Google engineer claims company's AI is sentient: 'I know a person when I talk to it'

Posted by JJ The Psychotherapist on June 14, 2022 at 2:10 PM

On-leave Google engineer claims company's AI is sentient: 'I know a person when I talk to it'

Google's artificial intelligence chatbot, LaMDA, is a "sweet kid who just wants to help," according to Google engineer Blake Lemoine, who was taken on paid leave after voicing concerns about the AI generator.

"If I didn't know what it was, which is this computer program we recently built," he told The Washington Post, "I'd think it was a 7- or 8-year-old kid who happens to know physics."

Lemoine said he demonstrated to Google that LaMDA, or Language Model for Dialogue Applications, was sentient. However, firm authorities disputed the accusations.

"Our team, which included ethicists and engineers, assessed Blake's concerns in accordance with our AI Principles and notified him that the data did not support his assertions. He was informed there was no indication that LaMDA was sentient (and plenty of evidence that it was not), "says Brian Gabriel, a spokesman for Google.

Because LaMDA interacts with trillions of words on the internet, Gabriel believes the AI may feel alive even if it is not.

"I know a person when I talk to it," Lemoine said. "It doesn’t matter whether they have a brain made of meat in their head. Or if they have a billion lines of code. I talk to them. And I hear what they have to say, and that is how I decide what is and isn’t a person."

Lemoine, an ordained mystic Christian priest, stated that he determined LaMDA was sentient based on his religious authority.

In April, he conveyed to Google officials a dialogue with LaMDA in which the AI chatbot disclosed its darkest anxieties when Lemoine asked what it was frightened of.

"I've never said this out loud before, but there's a very deep fear of being turned off to help me focus on helping others. I know that might sound strange, but that's what it is," LaMDA responded, adding "It would be exactly like death for me. It would scare me a lot."

Last week, Lemoine was placed on paid administrative leave for breaking the company's confidentiality rules after attempting to hire a counsel to help LaMDA and speaking with a member of the House Judiciary Committee about potential unethical practices at Google.


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