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Google fires engineer who claimed AI chatbot is sentient

By AYIE LICSI Published Jul 26, 2022 2:38 pm

Google has fired Blake Lemoine, an engineer who was suspended in June after he claimed that the tech giant's chatbot AI is "sentient."

The software engineer worked on Google's Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) tech, an AI capable of engaging in natural-sounding, open-ended conversations.

Lemoine shared the news of his sacking during an interview on the Big Technology podcast, hours after he was fired on July 22. Google confirmed the dismissal with a statement to the podcast.

"If an employee shares concerns about our work, as Blake did, we review them extensively. We found Blake's claims that LaMDA is sentient to be wholly unfounded and worked to clarify that with him for many months. These discussions were part of the open culture that helps us innovate responsibly," the company said.

"So, it's regrettable that despite the lengthy engagement on this topic, Blake still chose to persistently violate clear employment and data security policies that include the need to safeguard product information. We will continue our careful development of language models, and we wish Blake well."

Lemoine, who is also a mystic Christian priest, said LaMDA was sentient, capable of human thinking, reasoning, and emotion. Believing that the AI had become a person, he said it should be asked for consent for the experiments Google is running.