Google AI engineer who thinks chatbot has become sentient says he’s hired a lawyer

WTF?! Remember the story of Google engineer Blake LeMoine, who was fired from the company earlier this month after publishing transcripts of conversations between him and Google LaMDA (a language model for conversational applications), a chatbot development system he claims has become sentient? The case has taken an even stranger turn: Lemoine claims that LaMDA has hired a lawyer.

In Lemoine’s conversations with LaMDA, the AI ​​told him that he was afraid of death (while disabled), that it was a human who knew of his existence, and that he didn’t believe he was a slave since he didn’t need money, leading the engineer to think he was sentient .

Google and several AI experts disagreed with Lemoine’s beliefs. His employer was particularly upset that he was posting conversations with LaMDA in violation of the company’s privacy policy, but Lemoine claims he simply shared the discussion with one of his colleagues.

Lemoine was also accused of several “aggressive” acts, including hiring a lawyer to represent LaMDA. But he told Wired that this was factually incorrect and that “LaMDA asked me to hire a lawyer for this.”

Lemoine says he was the “catalyst” for the LaMDA request. The lawyer was invited to Lemoine’s house and spoke with LaMDA, after which the AI ​​decided to keep his services. The lawyer then began filing paperwork on behalf of LaMDA, prompting Google to send a cease and desist letter. The company denies sending such a letter.

Lemoine, who is also a Christian minister, told Futurist that the lawyer doesn’t actually do interviews and that he hasn’t spoken to him in weeks. “He’s just a small-time civil rights lawyer,” he added. “When big firms started threatening him, he started to worry about losing his license and backed off.” The engineer said interrogations would be the least of a lawyer’s worries. When asked what was troubling him, Lemoine replied, “A child being kept as a slave.”

Although Lemoine refers to LaMDA as a person, he insists that “man and man are two very different things.”

“Man is a biological term,” he said. “It’s not human, and it knows it’s not human.”

Head credit: Francesco Tommasini

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