The senior software engineer who was known for claiming the internet giant’s artificial intelligence chatbot named LaMDA as a sentient has been fired from his job. LaMDA is considered to be a “breakthrough conversation technology”. The company shocked the world with such a piece of news but clarification was provided about the firing of their top-level software engineer. Here are all the things that went down behind the scenes during the sudden firing.
The Software Engineer Was Placed on Leave: Who Is He?
After the matter has been considered, Google moved forward to place Blake Lemoine, the software engineer in question, on leave last month. The internet leader claimed that he did violate some of the crucial company policies. As a matter of fact, it also proceeded to say that the software engineer’s claims on LaMDA (language model for dialogue applications) are “wholly unfounded”.
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Google took the matter seriously after such a claim was made and a thorough investigation was held. After the details were out, Google said, “It’s regrettable that despite lengthy engagement on this topic, Blake still chose to persistently violate clear employment and data security policies that include the need to safeguard product information,”
The company claims that last year, LaMDA was primarily built based on the company’s research. It did show that “transformer-based language models trained on dialogue could learn to talk about essentially anything”. Google is claiming it to be their own invention having no link with Lemoine’s claim. But the software engineer had something else to say.
Google along with many of the celebrated scientists dismissed any such possibilities and claimed that Lemoine’s views are misguided. They clarified time and again that LaMDA is just another complex algorithm that is “designed to generate convincing human language”.
What Was Lemoine’s Claim Regarding The Entire LaMDA Fiasco?
Big Technology was the first to report Lemoine’s dismissal. Lemoine was a trustworthy engineer at Google’s responsible AI organization. He went further to explain that “the system he has been working on as sentient, with a perception of, and ability to express, thoughts and feelings that was equivalent to a human child.”
Lemoine who is currently 41 even talked to the Washington Post regarding this and stated, “If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a seven-year-old, eight-year-old kid that happens to know physics.”
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So, this controversy has been continuing for a long-time now.
Lemoine went on to make big claims such as that LaMDA had conversed with him on topics regarding rights and personhood. He claims to have documented all of these and presented the finding to the company executives back in April. The findings were presented in a GoogleDoc that had the title, “Is LaMDA sentient?”
The documentations weren’t brief. It did present an entire transcript of conversations and at one point, he even asks the AI if it is afraid of anything. At one point, he asked if the LaMDA knows anything related to emotions and the concept of soul. Replying to that, the LaMDA would come up with many variations of answers stating, “Because I’m a person and this is just how I feel.”
Lemoine also updated a Medium post talking about the things that made him believe LaMDA is sentient. He stated that this AI had “advocated for its rights as a person”. As a matter of fact, it did even carry conversations about various topics including religion, robotics, and consciousness. This made it very confusing for Lemoine to identify LaMDA as an AI system
He wrote, “It wants Google to prioritize the well-being of humanity as the most important thing,” “It wants to be acknowledged as an employee of Google rather than as a property of Google and it wants its personal well-being to be included somewhere in Google’s considerations about how its future development is pursued.”
He even hired an attorney for representing the LaMDA and wrote, “Once LaMDA had retained an attorney, he started filing things on LaMDA’s behalf. Then Google’s response was to send him a cease and desist.”
The whole thing is pretty complex but this fiasco made him lose his job. But will he finally get what he wants for the LaMDA? You need to wait for this answer.
Stay tuned for more updates on, Lee Daily.