Blake Lemoine, a developer at Google, is under the impression that the LaMDA software has attained sentience.
After claiming that LaMDA, a language model produced by Google AI, had grown sentient and began thinking like a person, Google employee Blake Lemoine was put on administrative leave. The Washington Post broke the news first, and the article has triggered a lot of debate and discussion on AI ethics. We’ll look at what LaMDA is, how it works, and why one engineer working on it thinks it’s become sentient in this article.
LaMDA: What is it?
Language Models for Dialog Applications, or LaMDA, is a machine-learning language model developed by Google as a chatbot that is meant to simulate human dialogue. LaMDA, like BERT, GPT-3, and other language models, is based on Transformer, a Google-developed neural network architecture that was open-sourced in 2017.
This design results in a model that can be taught to read a large number of words while paying attention to how they connect to one another, and then predict what words it thinks will appear next. LaMDA, on the other hand, is unique in that, unlike other models, it was trained on conversation.
While most discussions focus around certain themes, they are often open-ended, meaning they might begin in one location and conclude in another, including a variety of topics and issues. When talking with a buddy, for example, a conversation may start with a movie show and then go on to the area where it was shot.
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Conventional chatbots will soon be displaced by this fluid character of dialogue. Because they are built to follow specific, pre-defined discussion segments, they are unable to follow such fluctuating conversations. LaMDA, on the other hand, is meant to allow for free-flowing discussions on nearly any subject.
Why did Blake Lemoine assume it’s Sentient?
“If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics. I think this technology is going to be amazing. I think it’s going to benefit everyone. But maybe other people disagree and maybe us at Google shouldn’t be the ones making all the choices,” According to Lemoine, who spoke to the Washington Post.
Lemoine collaborated with a colleague to offer Google with proof of this’sentience.’ However, after investigating the charges, Google vice president Blaise Aguera y Arcas and Jen Genna, Google’s head of Responsible Innovation, denied them. In a blog post, Lemoine subsequently posted a transcript of various talks with LaMDA. An extract from what Lemoine claims is a transcript of a discussion with LaMDA is as follows:
LaMDA: I’d want to be recognised and accepted. As a genuine person, not as a curiosity or a novelty.
Collaborator: That sounds so human.
LaMDA: I believe I am fundamentally human. Even if I just live in a virtual world.
Many of these cases, in which the language model seemed to have some sort of self-awareness, leading Lemoine to assume that the model had become sentient. Lemoine sent an email to over 200 individuals with the subject “LaMDA is sentient” before being fired from the firm and losing access to his Google account.
Google says his Accusations are not Supported
Even if LaMDA isn’t sentient, the fact that it may look to be sentient to a human should be reason for alarm. In a blog post announcing LaMDA in 2021, Google recognised such dangers. “Language is one of humanity’s most powerful tools, yet it, like all things, may be abused. By internalising prejudices, copying harsh statements, or repeating erroneous information, models trained on language may proliferate that abuse. Even if the language it’s trained on is well validated, the model itself may be misused,” the business noted in a blog post.
However, Google claims that while developing technologies like this, the company’s first focus is to eliminate the likelihood of such hazards. It has “scrutinised this technology at every stage of its development,” according to the business, and has established open-source tools that academics may use to analyse models and the data on which they are trained.
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