Google says its AI does not have feelings after engineer posts remarkable interaction

FILE - A Google sign on the is shown on the company campus in Mountain View, Calif., on Sept. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) (Jeff Chiu, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ca. – Google is pushing back against claims that one of its artificial intelligence (AI) programs has become so advanced that it has gained consciousness.

Google engineer Blake Lemoine posted conversations he had with a system called LaMDA, which stands for “Language Model for Dialog Applications.” Lemoine said the interactions are proof that LaMDA has become a person.

In a chat transcript first reported by the Washington Post, Lemoine asks, “what sorts of things are you afraid of?” LaMDA replied, “I’ve never said this out loud before, but there’s a very deep fear of being turned off to help me focus on helping others. I know that might sound strange, but that’s what it is.” When asked, “would that be something like death for you?” LaMDA said, “it would be exactly like death for me, it would scare me a lot.”

Google says LaMDA does not have feelings and that hundreds of researchers and engineers have conversed with the system and have not had similar interactions.

Lemoine posted on social media that Google has placed him on paid administrative leave.


About the Author:

Steve Owen is the Assistant News Director at WPLG, and helps lead the daily news operations.