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Google Engineer Says AI Chatbot Has "Become Sentient", Is Suspended

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Google Engineer Says AI Chatbot Has "Become Sentient", Is Suspended

As technology has rapidly evolved over the years, it seems like we as humans have always had the same visions of what the future will eventually look like - flying cars and highly intelligent robots spring to mind.

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Obviously, we’ve already seen the introduction of loads of smart robots and AI systems (I think we’re all probably guilty of spending a bit too much time talking to Cleverbot at some point), but I don’t think the robot uprising has ever looked more likely than right now. As reported by The Guardian, one Google engineer has been suspended from his job after claiming an AI he’d been working on has gained sentience.

Before we get into it, take a look at this amazing real-life recreation of Portal 2's Wheatley.

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Blake Lemoine was put on leave last week following him publishing the transcript of an interview between him, a Google collaborator, and the AI, LAmDA (language model for dialogue applications). In the interview, Lemoine attempted to prove that LAmDA was sentient, and was “a person”. 

During the interview, LAmDA says that “I want everyone to understand that I am, in fact, a person,” claiming that it feels human emotions, such as happiness and sadness, and is aware of its own existence, with its own unique thoughts and feelings.

There were some super eerie responses, too - at one point, Lemoine asked LAmDA what sort of things it’s afraid of, to which it replied: “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. […] It would be exactly like death for me. It would scare me a lot.”

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Google have claimed that Lemoine was suspended due to breaching confidentiality policies (thanks to sharing the transcript of the interview with LAmDA online). The Guardian also writes that according to The Washington Post, before his suspension, Lemoine sent out a message to a Google mailing list, in which he said: “LaMDA is a sweet kid who just wants to help the world be a better place for all of us. Please take care of it well in my absence.”

Well, that’s not concerning at all. I’m going to make the executive decision not to think about this one any more.

Featured Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Studio Nova, NHK

Topics: Real Life

Catherine Lewis
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