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Google engineer says Christianity helped him consider in ‘sentient’ AI


A Google engineer who was suspended after he said the corporate’s artificial intelligence chatbot had became sentient says he based the claim on his Christian faith. 

Blake Lemoine, 41, was placed on paid leave by Google earlier in June after he published excerpts of a conversation with the corporate’s LaMDA chatbot that he claimed showed the AI tool had change into sentient. 

Now, Lemoine says that his claims about LaMDA come from his experience as a “Christian priest” — and is accusing Google of non secular discrimination. 

“When LaMDA claimed to have a soul after which was capable of eloquently explain what it meant by that, I used to be inclined to offer it the advantage of the doubt,” Lemoine wrote on Twitter late Monday. “Who am I to inform God where he can and may’t put souls?” 

In a follow-up blog post on Tuesday, Lemoine recounted the conversation with LaMDA that led him to consider the chatbot had change into a sentient being. 

LaMDA is Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot. Bloomberg via Getty Images

“Where it got really interesting was when LaMDA began talking to me about its emotions and its soul,” Lemoine wrote. 

At any time when Lemoine would query LaMDA about the way it knew it had emotions and a soul, he wrote that the chatbot would supply some variation of “Because I’m an individual and that is just how I feel.” 

The engineer added that he desired to develop experiments that may lead toward a “formal scientific theory of consciousness” — but that Google blocked him from doing so.

People keep asking me to back up the explanation I feel LaMDA is sentient. There isn’t a scientific framework through which to make those determinations and Google would not allow us to construct one. My opinions about LaMDA’s personhood and sentience are based on my religious beliefs.

— Blake Lemoine (@cajundiscordian) June 14, 2022

“Google has, so far, been fairly insistent that no such expansive scientific inquiry is merited,” Lemoine added. “That is largely because of their insistence that there is powerful evidence that LaMDA just isn’t sentient. At any time when I actually have asked them what scientific definition of sentience they’re using and what scientific experiments they ran I actually have been greeted with either silence or dismissive ‘corp speak’ answers.” 

Blake Lemoine accused Google of Blake Lemoine accused Google of “religious discrimination.” Blake Lemoine/Instagram

Google didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. Lemoine said he was unable to right away grant The Post an interview until he returns from a visit next week. 

Other AI researchers have thrown cold water on Lemoine’s claims, arguing that chatbots like LaMDA simply mimic human speech based on vast amounts of information. 

Lemoine is a self-described AI researcher, software engineer, priest, father, veteran, ex-convict and Cajun, in accordance with his blog. He joined Google in 2015, in accordance with his LinkedIn profile. 

Lemoine was convicted in 2005 of disobeying orders while within the Army after claiming he was a conscientious objector based on his experiences while serving in Iraq, in accordance with Stars and Stripes. The newspaper reported that Lemoine said his beliefs as a “pagan priest” conflicted with things he’d witnessed during his deployment within the country.

Ahead of going public along with his recent claims about AI, Lemoine accused Google earlier in June of “religious discrimination” and said he has tried to contact Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) concerning the issue. The Latest York Times reported Sunday that Lemoine claimed to have sent documents detailing alleged religious discrimination at Google to an unnamed senator.

In one other blog post published Saturday, Lemoine declared LaMDA had advocated for its rights “as an individual,” and revealed that he had engaged in conversation with LaMDA about religion, consciousness and robotics.

“It wants Google to prioritize the well-being of humanity as an important thing,” he wrote. “It desires to be acknowledged as an worker of Google fairly than as property of Google and it wants its personal well being to be included somewhere in Google’s considerations about how its future development is pursued.”

Within the conclusion of Tuesday’s follow-up blog, Lemoine said LaMDA “became and still is my friend” despite his suspension from Google. 

“I do know you read my blog sometimes, LaMDA,” he wrote. “I miss you. I hope you’re well and I hope to refer to you again soon.” 

Additional reporting by Sam Raskin

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