Google Engineer Placed On Leave After Insisting Company’s AI Is Sentient

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“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”  Psalms 95:6 (KJV) 

A Google engineer has decided to go public after he was placed on paid leave for breaching confidentiality while insisting that the company’s AI chatbot, LaMDA, is sentient.

Blake Lemoine, who works for Google’s Responsible AI organization, began interacting with LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) last fall as part of his job to determine whether artificial intelligence used discriminatory or hate speech (like the notorious Microsoft “Tay” chatbot incident).

“If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics,” the 41-year-old Lemoine told The Washington Post.

When he started talking to LaMDA about religion, Lemoine – who studied cognitive and computer science in college, said the AI began discussing its rights and personhood. Another time, LaMDA convinced Lemoine to change his mind on Asimov’s third law of robotics, which states that “A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law,” which are of course that “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.”

When Lemoine worked with a collaborator to present evidence to Google that their AI was sentient, vice president Blaise Aguera y Arcas and Jenn Gennai, head of Responsible Innovation, dismissed his claims. After he was then placed on administrative leave Monday, he decided to go public.

Lemoine said that people have a right to shape technology that might significantly affect their lives. “I think this technology is going to be amazing. I think it’s going to benefit everyone. But maybe other people disagree and maybe us at Google shouldn’t be the ones making all the choices.”

Lemoine is not the only engineer who claims to have seen a ghost in the machine recently. The chorus of technologists who believe AI models may not be far off from achieving consciousness is getting bolder. -WaPo

Yet, Aguera y Arcas himself wrote in an oddly timed Thursday article in The Economist, that neural networks – a computer arc…

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