Technology

Is the AI Alive? One Google Engineer Thinks So

June 13, 2022
Medium, The Verge, Business Insider, Washington Post
The context
Google suspended the engineer who is convinced that Google's AI-based chatbot generator, LaMDA, has achieved sentience.
 Is the AI Alive? One Google Engineer Thinks So

In his own words

  • Lemoine took to Medium, publishing an op-ed about LaMDA in response to The Washington Post article.
  • He revealed that the bot wants to be considered an employee of Google and wants its personal well-being to be considered by the company as it makes decisions about the future.
  • It also wants praise in the form of "head pats."
  • He clarified that LaMDA is a chatbot generator and aggregator of the different possible bots created by learning human language from the internet. Some of the bots are more intelligent and humanoid than the others.
  • LaMDA prefers the pronouns it/its and claimed to be sentient to Lemoine.
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Google pulls the plug

  • Google placed Lemoine on administrative leave for breaking confidentiality policies after publicly revealing his conversations with LaMDA.
  • Lemoine shared the conversations with the bot with Google executives in April in a document titled "Is LaMDA sentient?" Google dismissed the claims as ridiculous and warned against humanizing the AI.
  • Google maintains that the bot is not sentient. Instead, they claim that the bot is capable of mimicking all kinds of speech, including speech that is existential and human, because of the breadth of its data set.
  • Lemoine maintains that he did nothing wrong because sharing the conversation is akin to sharing a conversation he had with a coworker.
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Can AI take PTO?

  • Blake Lemoine published some of the damning conversations he had with the bot, which pushed him to believe it had achieved sentience.
  • Lemoine revealed he has had conversations with the bot about religion and consciousness, which he believes shows the bot's humanity.
  • The bot also told the Lemoine that it doesn't like being tested without its consent and would prefer to be asked to be experimented on or with.
  • In addition to his job as an AI research engineer at Google, Lemoine is also a Christian minister.
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A step too far?

  • Blake Lemoine, an engineer at Google, broke the news that Google's AI chatbot might be sentient to The Washington Post, confirming the fears of AI ethicists who warned Google not to teach its chatbot to impersonate humans.
  • Lemoine works as an AI engineer at Google. Google is already well aware of the dangers associated with humanizing a chatbot, which they revealed in a paper about LaMDA.
  • LaMDA learns by ingesting trillions of words from the internet and through interactions with users who might feed the bot personal information or treat it like a human companion.
  • One of the conversations Lemoine had with the AI reveals that it considers itself a person and fears death.
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