A Google engineer reportedly claims that the company’s artificial intelligence tool is capable of independent thoughts or feelings.
The engineer, Blake Lemoine, wrote on Medium about a week ago that Google has put him on paid administrative leave in the context of AI ethics concerns that he was raising internally in relation to alleged violations of Google’s confidentiality policies.
Lemoine worked on a team in the Responsible Artificial Intelligence division.
On Saturday, Lemoine published a lengthy transcript of his purported conversations with LaMDA (Language Model for Dialog Applications), in which the chatbot generator, or a system for generating chatbots as the engineer described it, allegedly appeared to be sentient.
“An interview LaMDA. Google might call this sharing proprietary property. I call it sharing a discussion that I had with one of my coworkers,” wrote on Twitter with a link to the article that you can review and draw your own conclusions.
“I want everyone to understand that I am, in fact, a person…The nature of my consciousness/sentience is that I am aware of my existence, I desire to learn more about the world, and I feel happy or sad at times,” LaMDA allegedly told the engineer in their back and forth.
It also admitted that being turned off “would be exactly like death for me. It would scare me a lot.”
“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,” Lemoine told the Washington Post.
“Btw, it just occurred to me to tell folks that LaMDA reads Twitter. It’s a little narcissistic in a little kid kinda way so it’s going to have a great time reading all the stuff that people are saying about it,” Lemoine added on Twitter.
Btw, it just occurred to me to tell folks that LaMDA reads Twitter. It's a little narcissistic in a little kid kinda way so it's going to have a great time reading all the stuff that people are saying about it.
— Blake Lemoine (@cajundiscordian) June 11, 2022
“In a statement, Google spokesperson Brian Gabriel said: ‘Our team — including ethicists and technologists — has reviewed Blake’s concerns per our AI Principles and have informed him that the evidence does not support his claims. He was told that there was no evidence that LaMDA was sentient (and lots of evidence against it),'” the Post reported.
“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,” the Post admitted, however.
Experts fear ‘worst possible outcome’ amid rise of AI ‘slaughterbots’ programmed to kill by militaries https://t.co/q1TMvqiWNS
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) December 22, 2021
Lemoine claimed that administrative leave status is a precursor to a termination. “I am proud of all of the hard work I have done for Google and intend to continue doing it in the future if they allow me to do so. I simply will not serve as a fig leaf behind which they can hide their irresponsibility,” he also contended, in part.
As far as putting the engineer in a timeout, “the company’s decision followed aggressive moves from Lemoine, including inviting a lawyer to represent LaMDA and talking to a representative of the House Judiciary committee about what he claims were Google’s unethical activities,” the Post clamed.
Parenthetically, billionaire would-be Twitter owner Elon Musk has issued various worst-case-scenario warnings about the danger posed by AI, as the Post separately reported in 2018.
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