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Google Fires Engineer Who Claimed AI Tech Has Feelings

Google Blake Lemoine AI Tech
Google fires Blake Lemoine, the engineer who said AI Tech has feelings. Credit: Biodev, CC BY SA 4.0

Google’s Blake Lemoine, the engineer who said the company’s AI Tech system has feelings, was fired on Friday, the company confirmed.

Last month in June, Blake went public with his theory that Google’s language technology has feelings and should therefore have its “wants” respected, attracting concerns from several AI experts who denied his claims.

Google said in a statement that, Mr. Lemoine’s claims about The Language Model for Dialogue Applications (Lamda) were “wholly unfounded” and that the company worked with him for “many months” to clarify this.

“So, 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 statement said.

Last month, Blake Lemoine started making headlines when he said Lamda was showing human-like consciousness. It sparked discussion among AI Tech experts and enthusiasts about the advancement of technology that is designed to impersonate humans.

Blake Lemoine justifies Google AI Tech has feelings

Having worked for Google’s Responsible AI team, Mr. Lemoine, said that his job was to test if the technology used discriminatory or hate speech. He found out that Lamda showed self-awareness and could hold conversations about religion, feelings, and fears.

This led Mr. Lemoine to believe that behind its impressive verbal skills might also lie a sentient mind. His findings were dismissed by Google, and he was placed on paid leave for violating the company’s confidentiality policy.

To support his claims, Mr. Lemoine then published a conversation he and another person had with the Language Model for Dialogue Applications.

In its statement, Google said it takes the responsible development of AI “very seriously” and published a report detailing this. It added that any employee concerns about the company’s technology are reviewed “extensively,” and that Lamda has been through eleven reviews.

The statement ended by wishing Mr. Lemoine Blake, all the best!

Lemoine is not the first AI Tech engineer to go public with claims that AI technology is becoming more conscious. Also last month, another Google employee shared similar thoughts with The Economist.

Mr. Lemoine told reporters that he is getting legal advice and declined to comment further on the matter.

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