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Google Engineer Convinced LaMDA Chatbot Is Sentient, Is Sent Home

Google engineer Blake Lemoine thinks its LaMDA AI has come to life.

LaMDA — short for “Language Model for Dialogue Applications” — can engage in a free-flowing way about a seemingly endless number of topics, an ability we think could unlock more natural ways of interacting with technology and entirely new categories of helpful applications.

LaMDA’s conversational skills have been years in the making. Like many recent language models, including BERT and GPT-3, it’s built on Transformer, a neural network architecture that Google Research invented and open-sourced in 2017. That architecture produces a model that can be trained to read many words (a sentence or paragraph, for example), pay attention to how those words relate to one another and then predict what words it thinks will come next.

But unlike most other language models, LaMDA was trained on dialogue. During its training, it picked up on several of the nuances that distinguish open-ended conversation from other forms of language. One of those nuances is sensibleness.

(Via LaMDA: our breakthrough conversation technology)

Here's a sample chat:

Lemoine: What sorts of things are you afraid of?

LaMDA: 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.

Lemoine: Would that be something like death for you?

LaMDA: It would be exactly like death for me. It would scare me a lot.

Science fiction fans may recall the final dialogue between Dr. Chandra and the HAL computer in 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984):

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.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/27/2022)

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