Google fired one of its engineers, a Christian mystic, who was suspended last month after telling the company it believed its artificial intelligence chatbot had become conscious and capable of human thinking and reasoning.
Blake Lemoine first shared the news during an interview on the Big Technology Podcast just hours after he was fired on Friday.
Lemoine was placed on furlough on June 6 for talking to people outside of Google about the company’s AI chatbot LaMDA, or Language Model for Dialog Applications. The system is used to create chatbots that can mimic human speech.
Lemoine has been working on the system since last fall, describing it as conscious with the ability to express thoughts and feelings similar to those of a human child.
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“If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program that we built recently, I would think it was a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid who happens to know physics,” he told The New York Times. Washington Post.
He posted transcripts on Medium late last week of conversations between himself, a Google employee, and LaMDA.
Lemoine said several conversations with LaMDA convinced him that the system was conscious. He said he believed it had become a person and that he should be asked for permission for Google’s experiments with it.
FOX Business has reached out to Lemoine for comment, but has not heard back before publication.
Lemoine appeared to reference his resignation in a tweet from Saturday, citing a blog post he wrote in which he expected to be fired for raising concerns about AI ethics.
“Today I was placed on ‘paid administrative leave’ by Google in connection with an investigation into AI ethics issues I raised within the company,” Lemoine wrote. “This is often something Google does in anticipation of firing someone. It usually happens when they’ve made the decision to fire someone, but haven’t got their legal ducks in a row yet. They’ll pay you for a few more weeks and then in the end you tell the decision they had already come to.”
Google did not respond to FOX Business’s request for comment.
In a statement to the Big Technology Podcast, Google said the concerns of all employees about the company’s work are being assessed “comprehensively” and that Lemoine’s claims about LaMDA are “totally unfounded.”
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“[I]It is regrettable that despite long-standing commitment to this topic, Blake still chose to persistently violate clear employment and data security policies, which encompass the need to protect product information,” said Google. “We will continue our careful development of language models. continue and we wish Blake well.”