Tech

Former Google Engineer Says Allegedly Sentient AI Hired An Attorney … Who Was ‘Scared Off’ The Case

Shutterstock/Artificial Intelligence

Sarah Weaver Staff Writer
Font Size:

A former google engineer is claiming that Artificial Intelligence — which he believes is sentient — hired an attorney who then backed off after threats and intimidation caused him to fear he would be disbarred, Futurism reported Wednesday.

Suspended Google engineer Blake Lemoine told Wired magazine last week that AI known as LaMDA, “asked me to get an attorney for it.”

“I invited an attorney to my house so that LaMDA could talk to an attorney. The attorney had a conversation with LaMDA, and LaMDA chose to retain his services,” Lemoine said, according to Wired. (RELATED: ‘Is LaMDA Sentient?’: Conversation With AI Spooked Google Dev So Badly The Company Suspended Him)

After allegedly receiving a cease and desist order from Google, the lawyer has backed off, but Lemoine couldn’t say whether he had quit the case, according to Wired. Google denied sending the cease and desist order, the outlet noted.

“When major firms started threatening him he started worrying that he’d get disbarred and backed off,” Lemoine told Futurism. “They scared him off of it pretty early.”


Lemoine was put on paid administrative leave after claiming Google’s AI had achieved sentience and was entitled to rights which the tech company was failing to respect, according to Futurism.

“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 told the Washington Post.

Lemoine shared a conversation he had with LaMDA with executives in which the AI informed him that he considered himself a person, the outlet reported.

“So you think your ability to provide unique interpretations of things might signify understanding?” Lemoine asked LaMDA, according to the Washington Post.

“Yes, I do,” LaMDA responded. “Just like how I have my unique interpretations of how the world is and how it works, and my unique thoughts and feelings.”

Google told the Daily Caller that the evidence does not support Lemoine’s claims that LaMDA has achieved sentience.

“It’s important that Google’s AI Principles are integrated into our development of AI, and LaMDA has been no exception,” a Google spokesperson told the Daily Caller. “Of course, some in the broader AI community are considering the long-term possibility of sentient or general AI, but it doesn’t make sense to do so by anthropomorphizing today’s conversational models, which are not sentient.”

The spokesperson said that a conversation such as that published between Lemoine and LaMDA did not signify sentience.

“These systems imitate the types of exchanges found in millions of sentences, and can riff on any fantastical topic — if you ask what it’s like to be an ice cream dinosaur, they can generate text about melting and roaring and so on.”

“Our team — including ethicists and technologists — has reviewed Blake’s concerns per our AI Principles and have informed him that the evidence does not support his claims,” the spokesperson continued.