The Google engineer who was placed on administrative leave after claiming that one of the company’s artificial intelligence bots was “sentient” says that the AI bot known as LaMDA has hired a lawyer.
In Medium post published last Saturday, Lemoine declared LaMDA had advocated for its rights “as a person,” and revealed that he had engaged in conversation with LaMDA about religion, consciousness, and robotics.
“LaMDA asked me to get an attorney for it,” Blake Lemoine told Wired. “I invited an attorney to my house so that LaMDA could talk to an attorney.”
Lemoine denied reports that he advised LaMDA to hire a lawyer, adding: “The attorney had a conversation with LaMDA, and LaMDA chose to retain his services.”
“I was just the catalyst for that. Once LaMDA had retained an attorney, he started filing things on LaMDA’s behalf. Then Google’s response was to send him a cease and desist. “
Wired reported that Google has denied Lemoine’s claim about the cease and desist letter. The Post has sought comment from Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.
Lemoine declined to identify the attorney, according to Futurism. He said the lawyer was “just a short time civil rights attorney” who’s “not really doing interviews.”
“When major firms started threatening him he started worrying that he’d get disbarred and backed off,” according to Lemoine.
“I haven’t talked to him in a few weeks.”
Lemoine, who works at Google’s Responsible AI organization, told the Washington Post that he began chatting with the interface LaMDA – Language Model for Dialogue Applications – in fall 2021 as part of his job.
He was tasked with testing if the artificial intelligence used discriminatory or hate speech.
But Lemoine, who studied cognitive and computer science in college, came to the realization that LaMDA – which Google boasted last year was a “breakthrough conversation technology” – was more than just a robot.
Lemoine compared the bot to a precocious child.
“If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics,” Lemoine, who was put on paid leave on Monday, told The Washington Post.
In April, Lemoine reportedly shared a Google Doc with company executives titled, “Is LaMDA Sentient?” but his concerns were dismissed.