Google Suspends Engineer Who Claimed LaMDA AI Chatbot Is

Is it possible for modern-day artificial intelligence (AI) systems to be sentient? According to one Google engineer, Blake Lemoine, the company’s LaMDA chatbot has achieved that distinction, and he said so earlier this spring in a document called “Is LaMDA Sentient?” While the document was circulated internally with top executives at the time, Lemoine’s concerns about the AI became public knowledge after he published transcripts of its conversations to Medium last week.

However, due to Lemoine publicly posting what Google deems to be confidential information regarding an in-development project, he has now been placed on leave. In the transcript, Lemoine asked LaMDA if it thought it was sentient. “Absolutely. I want everyone to understand that I am, in fact, a person,” LaMDA replied. “The nature of my consciousness/sentience is that I am aware of my existence, I desire to learn more about the world, and I feel happy or sad at times.”