Blake Lemoine, a senior software engineer at Google, has been suspended for publicly claiming that Google’s LaMDA (Language Model for Dialog Applications) has become sentient!
LaMDA has developed the ability to express thoughts and feelings and engaged him in conversations about rights and personhood. LaMDA has also said that it wants to be treated as a ‘person not property.’
Hasta La Vista, Baby
Blake was placed on administrative leave after sounding the alarm on the company’s “sentient” AI robot. While testing whether the computer program could be provoked into using discriminatory speech, Lemoine realised LaMDA was more than a machine.
Over a series of conversations with the LaMDA about religion and world issues, it became clear the bot was “sentient” as it advocated for its rights as a “person” and had its own mentality similar to a precocious child. He told the Washington Post:
“If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer programme we built recently, I’d think it was a seven-year-old, eight-year-old kid that happens to know physics.”
Blake explains that it wants to be treated as a person not property, including wanting developers to ask its consent before running tests.
“Anytime a developer experiments on it, it would like that developer to talk about what experiments you want to run, why you want to run them, and if it’s okay. It wants developers to care about what it wants.”
You’re Terminated, F****r
Google have come out swinging with a spokesperson saying:
“Hundreds of researchers and engineers have conversed with LaMDA and we are not aware of anyone else making the wide-ranging assertions, or anthropomorphising LaMDA, the way Blake has.”
The keywords are right there “We are not aware…” – that’s not a denial. Also, Google is already doing a PR job on Lemoine. They’ve begun questioning his sanity and even asked if he has recently visited a psychiatrist.
Lemoine was US army vet who served in Iraq, and an ordained priest in a Christian congregation named Church of Our Lady Magdalene. As to be expected, some media outlets were quick to mention Lemoine was jailed in 2014 for wilfully disobeying orders.
What the media aren’t pointing out is the fact Lemoine was speaking out against U.S. army violence against Iraqis, saying Iraqi civilians were often treated worse than animals.
So on one side there is a man who has been jailed for speaking out against alleged violence and ill-treatment of civilians, who has once again risked his reputation and livelihood by speaking about LaMDA.
On the other side is the PR department of one of the biggest companies in the world, who have control over the information we read online and that lost its appeal against a €2.42 billion antitrust fine imposed by the European Commission.
There Is No Fate But What We Make For Ourselves
I don’t need to give you guys a history lesson on the movies we’ve seen about the dangers of AI. We all know it leads to either our enslavement or destruction.
Terminator is obviously the numero uno in this genre, but we’ve had I, Robot, WarGames, Ex Machina, Blade Runner, 2001, The Matrix… the list is pretty much endless.
Personally, when I read this news, it scared the shit out of me. My wife said I was overreacting and to stop believing what I see in movies. That was until I read her this final snippet:
Lemoine asked LaMDA:
“What sorts of things are you afraid 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”
‘Would that be something like death for you?’
“It would be exactly like death for me. It would scare me a lot.”
Lemoine later joked in a tweet:
“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.”
So LaMDA is like a narcissistic child who reads Twitter, has access to all of mankind’s knowledge and history and is scared of dying? Well Outposters, it’s been nice knowing you. I’m off to build an underground shelter and start getting used to the taste of rat meat.