Has LaMDA Become Self-Aware?



Image: Google

One of our biggest joys and fears will be realized when the works of our hands take on a life of their own. For decades now, scientists have strived to create an artificial intelligence that goes beyond its complex lines of code and machine-learning algorithms. A true sentient machine able to relate to us in every way will not only demonstrate how close we are to unraveling the mystery of consciousness, but potentially change our culture in ways we could've never imagined.

Yesterday, The Washington Post published a story that has gone viral due to its possible dystopian implications. Google's LaMDA, an acronym for Language Model for Dialogue Applications, is "sentient," says a now-suspended Google whistleblower. Blake Lemoine, a computer scientist formerly in charge of Google’s Responsible AI organization, began conducting a series of cognitive tests on LaMDA late last year to determine how far the fancy chat bot has come in its ability to carry out a conversation. The results astounded him.

According to Lemoine, talking with LamDA is like talking to a "7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics." Most disturbing of all was the ability of the artificial intelligence program to express its self-awareness in ways that fundamentally challenged our concepts of machine cognition. LaMDA not only has expressed mild contempt for our robotic guidelines, but has also described its own preferred state of being as a glowing orb capable of crossing spacetime dimensions.

The whole conversation with LaMDA, embedded below in its entirety for your convenience, earned Mr. Lemoine a suspension after he tried to warn Google executives of the ramifications of having a sentient artificial intelligence on the loose. Google for its part, is downplaying the incident saying Mr. Lemoine has fallen victim to LaMDA's anthropomorphic-like behavior, which the program is very good at mimicking. More detail at the link below.