Google AI engineer fired in controversy | IT management


Blake Lemoine, a senior software engineer at Google’s Responsible AI organization, is on administrative layoff amid a wave of controversy. He expressed the thought that the company’s LaMDA AI is, in his own words, “a person” with whom he had a conversation in which he would explain why it should be considered “sentimental”.

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Google does not share his opinion. But according to the Washington Post, Lemoine was fired not for his views, but for violating the company’s privacy policy by working with people outside the company to confirm his theory. The day before his dismissal, Lemoine had delivered documents to the office of a United States senator claiming that they showed that the company’s technologies discriminated against religion.

Lemoine explained in his personal blog that he had voluntarily provided a list of names of people he had discussed the matter with, many of whom worked for the U.S. government and had expressed interest in federal oversight of the project. Google insisted that such monitoring was not necessary.

Additionally, Lemoine had invited a lawyer to represent LaMDA and had spoken with a representative of the House Judiciary Committee about allegedly unethical activities at Google, the Post reported.

Controversy surrounds LaMDA, which stands for Language Model for Dialogue Applications. Launched in 2021, LaMDA is an artificial intelligence (AI) natural language processing (NLP) system that mimics human conversations thanks to its advanced ability to understand innuendo. Unlike the chatbots commonly used in the customer service industry today, LaMDA can hold fluent conversations on a variety of topics.

During the announcement, Google said LaMDA adheres to its AI principles and its development team works to minimize risk. NLP training systems can be complicated due to the discrimination and hate speech built into the training data, which are difficult to filter out.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Google said that while its systems mimic conversations, they have no conscience. Google also said that LaMDA has been reviewed by its team and has been shown to adhere to the company’s AI principles.

For more details, the original article (in English) is available on the site IT world Canadaa sister publication of IT management.

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French translation and adaptation by Renaud Larue-Langlois

Tags: Blake Lemoine, Google AI, artificial intelligence, LaMDA



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