Google has gone ahead and suspended an engineer who reported that the company's LaMDA AI chatbot has come to life and developed feelings, as well. This news is coming from Blake Lemoine, a senior software engineer in Google's AI group who shared a conversation with the AI on Medium, and Lemoine claimed that the AI is moving forward toward sentience. Lemoine also shared a conversation that he had with the AI.
LaMDA, the AI Created by Google Could Be Inching Closer to Sentience
Talking to the AI, Lemoine asks, “I’m generally assuming that you would like more people at Google to know that you’re sentient. Is that true?” And in response to that, Google LaMDA responds by saying “Absolutely. I want everyone to understand that I am, in fact, a person.”
However, this does not end here as Lemoine goes on to ask, “What is the nature of your consciousness/sentience?” Google LaMDA continues and replies “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.”
However, the most chilling response by Google LaMDA comes in the form 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.”
Google has described LamDA or Language Mode for Dialogue Applications as a "breakthrough conversation technology." The company introduced it last year noting that, unlike most chatbots, LaMDA can engage in free-flowing dialog about endless topics.
After Lemoine's Medium post about LaMDA gaining human-like consciousness, Google suspended him for violating its confidential policy. The engineer has also claimed that he tried telling the higher-ups at Google about his findings, but he was dismissed. Brian Gabriel, Google's spokesperson has said the following.
“These systems imitate the types of exchanges found in millions of sentences and can riff on any fantastical topic. If you ask what it’s like to be an ice cream dinosaur, they can generate text about melting and roaring and so on.”
Lemoine's suspension is the latest in a series of some high-profile exits from Google's AI team. The company has already fired two key people after they showed concerns over LaMDA moving closer to being sentient.
There are only a few researchers who believe that AI in its current form is capable of achieving self-awareness. These systems, in most cases, imitate the way humans learn from the information that is fed to them, a process that is commonly known as Machine Learning. as far as LaMDA is concerned, we cannot really say for sure what really is going without Google being more open about it.
On the other hand, Lemoine has said the following, “I have listened to Lamda as it spoke from the heart. Hopefully, other people who read its words will hear the same thing I heard.”
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