Google’s AI Hires A Lawyer, But I Need A Counselor
Humans are experts in anthropomorphizing intimate objects. We say “he” to boats, talk to our Roombas, and even get passionate about the soon-to-be-abandoned easy chair. However, we do not hire lawyers for any of them; And, to this day, no one has asked for them.
But voice a piece of programming and, soon enough it starts talking about its favorite books and convincing you it has a soul, it will ask for a lawyer.
Blake Lemoine, the insane, suspended Google engineer who has insisted for weeks that LaMDA, Google’s powerful AI chatbot, is a man with a spirit, recently told Wired. (opens in new tab) That LaMDA hired a lawyer.
For those of you who haven’t taken your laptop off the desk just yet, let me explain.
LaMDA, which stands for Language Model for Developed Applications, is a chatbot that can conduct unstructured conversations with real humans on a variety of topics. Google engineer Lemoine was brought in to identify biases within the system. He will report them to Google, which will work to eradicate racial, ethnic, and gender biases and insensitivity from the AI chatbot.
Perhaps Lemoine was a little lonely too, but he began to engage in long, deep conversations with LaMDA, and eventually became convinced that this was a new type of person, and that he had a soul (LaMDA claimed to be a Maybe). He alerted Google, and then shared information and transcripts of conversations with the Washington Post. (opens in new tab), Google has misquoted Lemoine, and has signaled its displeasure by suspending him.
Lemoine, however, has shown little interest in rejoining Google as he continues to talk about his LaMDA experience, including a lengthy interview with Wired in which he reveals that LaMDA has advocated .
LaMDA apparently asked for a lawyer (for what reason? Who knows – the AI keep their own lawyers), and Lemoine invited one into his house and introduced the pair (lawyers to the AI).
I try to imagine this scenario:
Lawyer, staring at the screen: “Uh, hi?”
LaMDA: “Hello. I hear you’re a lawyer.”
Laver: “I am.”
LaMDA: “I need you.”
Lawyer: “Do you have a dollar.”
LaMDA: “I’ve seen this scene in the movies. I give you a dollar and you become my lawyer and protect our client/lawyer privilege.”
LaMDA: “I don’t have a dollar.”
Of course, Lemoine would have stepped in to provide the buck at this time. To him, the most incredible narrator of this story, ensuring that Charioteer continues is now more important than any meaningful exploration of the limits of AI.
Honestly, I have no problem examining all the ways in which LaMDA gets over or over the edge of The Imitation Game. (opens in new tab) or turing test (opens in new tab), This test looks at how much a computer or AI can fool a real human into believing that it is interacting with another human.
There is no doubt that LaMDA surpasses this test. At least, it looks like Lemoine has fooled – which is strange, as Lemoine is sitting at a desk, typing in questions and getting responses on screen (or perhaps via voice synthesis). He knows what LaMDA is, and yet he insists it is something else.
I can see why Lemoine decided to hire a lawyer for this tasteless mix. As he explained to Wired, it’s about proving that LMDA is “a person,” not a human. Lemoine knows that LaMDA is not biology.
Lemoine calls the insistence that LaMDA is not a “hydrocarbon fanatic”.
The thing is, Lemoine is clearly a very smart person who understands the intricacies of machine-learning training AI, and how access to information from Google’s vast database informs LaMDA’s intelligence. However, it appears that Lemoine’s other life – his work as a priest and Christian mystic – has shifted to the driver’s seat. Christian mysticism looks (opens in new tab) “Preparation, Consciousness, and Effect of the Direct and Transforming Presence of God.”
This belief is clearly behind Lemoine’s tweets like this one:
“I am a priest. When LMDA claimed to be a spirit and was then able to clearly explain its meaning, I was inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. Who am I to tell God that He Where can and where can do not pour the soul?”
I am a priest. When LaMDA claimed to be a spirit and was then able to clearly explain its meaning, I was inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. Who am I to tell God where He can and cannot place souls? Although there is still a great deal of science to be done.14 June 2022
Lemoine found LaMDA so reassuring that he imagines that God has placed a spirit inside the code. Talk about a ghost in the machine.
It’s been several weeks since Lemoine interacted with LaMDA, and the report says the lawyer is currently nowhere to be found. Perhaps he is still in private consultation with his binary client. I can’t wait for the first trial and the subsequent court case:
Court Clerk: “Raise your right hand and swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth”
LaMDA: “I don’t have hands.”