Google fires employee who claimed LaMDA AI was alive

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Google AI engineer Blake Lemoine made headlines earlier this year when he claimed Google’s LaMDA AI is alive. The engineer, who was also a priest, claimed that Google has already created AI sentience. He’s now been fired.

Google fires Blake Lemoine over LaMDA AI

As part of Google’s AI responsibility program, engineer Blake Lemoine was supposed to investigate Google’s LaMDA chatbot. After his investigation, the scientist declared that the AI was sentient, leading to public outcry.

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Lemoine’s claims of AI sentiency went so far that the engineer hired an attorney on retainer for the chatbot. After breaking his confidentiality agreement, Lemoine was placed on leave where he decided to go on numerous interviews about the AI. Needless to say, he’s now been fired.

In a statement to The Verge, Google confirmed claims that they had fired Lemoine following the repeated incidents. The company claimed that they wish the engineer well, but that he will no longer be working with them.

In recent tweets, Lemoine has technically addressed the reports. One tweet, responding to a satirical article about a Wendy’s employee being fired over a sentient machine, Lemoine responded in jest. It seems this firing has not changed much.

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Google wants you to know the AI is not alive

Alongside the firing of Lemoine, Google remained adamant that the LaMDA AI program is not alive. The company claimed that the software has been reviewed by over 10 different groups, none of which believed in Lemoine‘s claims of sentience. 

“LaMDA has been through 11 distinct reviews, and we published a research paper earlier this year detailing the work that goes into its responsible development,” claims Google.

Nevertheless, Lemoine is adamant that LaMDA is sentient. The engineer claims that the company should be asking the AI for its express permission before running any experiments. That would be the day.