Google Engineer Fired for Disputing that Chatbots and AI Have Souls
- Google fired one of its engineers for disputing his work on an artificial intelligence robot.
- According to the engineer, the robot he worked on had similarities to human children, which made him conclude that AI was sentient.
- The software engineer was responsible for testing whether the chatbot Google was developing had any biases.
- Google was developing a bot called LaMDA to mimic speech similar to humans.
- When the engineer tested the bot with a philosophical conversation, it responded as one of the leading philosophers, which convinced him of something beyond a scientific hypothesis: that the bot was sentient.
A Google software engineer who has been working for months on developing a chatbot called LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) has made claims that have caused quite a stir.
The company has been training the bot to mimic human speech for several months and assigned the engineer — Blake Lemoine — the task of checking if it had biases.
The bot responded as one of the leading philosophers upon engaging the chatbot with philosophical conversations. According to the engineer, the LaMDA bot had similarities to human children, which made him conclude that the AI was sentient. He further engaged the bot in various topics at a deeper length, and it responded as human, leading him to question whether the program had a soul.
In April 2022, Blake Lemoine explained his views to Google executives, who quickly dismissed his argument.
Taking The Claims on AI Sentience Public
When Google dismissed Blake’s claim that the artificial intelligence they were working on had a soul, Lemoine went public. The engineer disputed that the bots were displaying signs of basically being alive — being sentient. To insist on his argument, the engineer executed the Turing test, which Alan Turing postulated in the 1950s to establish whether machines can think.
The AI passed the test. However, Google said that while the LaMDA chatbot is wicked smart and can respond just like humans, it doesn’t mean it has a soul. The company says people should think of LaMDA as an autocorrect on steroids. The machine anticipates based on statistics.
After taking his views public, Google placed Blake Lemoine on administrative leave.
Is It Possible for AI to be Sentient?
Since the beginning of computers, people have been saying that at some point, computers will be alive and conscious and could be able to do things that humans can do.
Over the years, many AIs have successfully passed the Turing test, but that doesn’t mean they’re alive. Instead, it means technology is getting smarter.
Take the Google chatbot, for instance. Whatever a person asks, the AI will have answers right away, coming from its huge database. Google is saying that it isn’t a bigger deal, and many people agree.
AI is Bleeding Into Certain Areas That People Think it’s a Sign of Life
While it’s no longer a rarity for people to interact normally with bots, the text exchange between Google’s chatbot and the engineer was impressive. The most striking exchange was related to the themes of existence and death. The bot had a deep dialogue and might be why Lemoine questioned whether the AI had a soul.
The technology for artificial intelligence is starting to bleed into certain areas that people thought of as signs of life. People wonder how a machine can know what they want.
Facts VS. Belief
In reality, many people are victims of sophisticated marketing AI that can anticipate their needs based on their behavior. The sophistication doesn’t make the AI alive and sentient.
Instead, the bots use well-programmed algorithms that are excellent at executing the analytics behind human behavior.
For instance, a person might be online looking at tents or just talking about camping on Facebook with friends. Suddenly, they might start getting marketing emails about camping equipment.
The recommendation doesn’t mean that somebody overheard your conversations or that your computer knows who you’re and what you like. The algorithms marketers are developing can put two and two to give you what you’re most likely looking for.
Will AI Be Sentient in The Not-so-Distant Future?
AI might not be there yet, but there is a possibility that bots will be human-like. At this point, for AI to work, humans must program it. The technology isn’t capable of independent thought or action. Everything a bot does, it can do because humans used a certain algorithm to program it.
Unlike humans, who can independently conjure things up in their brains that are completely unrelated to the previous thoughts to take actions, a bot can only execute the action from the data it has. A bot cannot independently take action on things it hasn’t initially fed.
While AI technology will improve, it will not likely be sentient soon. For instance, new cars have more responsive and less techie navigation systems than previous cars. However, that doesn’t make them alive. Instead, it only means that modern car systems have better algorithms that can interpret human voices much smoother than they could in the past.
What Would It Mean For AI to Have a Soul?
Some futurists and tech experts predict that AI will experience the world as humans experience it — intelligently, emotionally, and spiritually. However, to answer whether AI can have a soul, we first must define and understand what a soul is.
People have different definitions of a soul.
If having a soul means the ability to think and execute actions, AI has the capability to solve problems humans solve using their intelligence. However, if soul means having human capabilities like core beliefs and motivation, self-awareness, or cultural genuflection, AI still has a long way to go.
Alvarez Technology Group Will Keep Your Business Current With Tech Trends
Technology is evolving at a rate that can be daunting to any business owner. Tech is changing so quickly that many businesses have problems keeping up. If you lag behind the current tech trends, you risk remaining irrelevant or missing the opportunity to transform how your business operates. Alvarez Technology Group can help you evade all the risks of falling behind in technology. Contact us today to advise of the latest trends and IT solutions your business needs to stay ahead of your competition.