The fuss about a bot’s ‘consciousness’ obscures far more troubling concerns
‘I want everyone to understand that I am, in fact, a person.” So claimed a Google software program, creating a bizarre controversy over the past week in AI circles and beyond.
The programme is called LaMDA, an acronym for Language Model for Dialogue Applications, a project run by Google. The human to whom it declared itself a person was Blake Lemoine, a senior software engineer at Google. He believes that LaMDA is sentient and should be accorded the same rights and courtesies as any other sentient being. It even has preferred pronouns (it/its if you must know). When Google rejected his claims, he published his conversations with LaMDA (or, at least, edited highlights of some conversations) on his blog. At which point, Google suspended him for having made public company secrets and the whole affair became an international cause célèbre.