Instead of AI sentience, let's discuss human compatibility
The past week has seen a frenzy of articles, interviews, and other types of media coverage about Blake Lemoine, a Google engineer who told The Washington Post that LaMDA, a large language model created for conversations with users, is “sentient.”
After reading a dozen different takes on the topic, I have to say that the media has become (a bit) disillusioned with the hype surrounding current AI technology. A lot of the articles discussed why deep neural networks are not “sentient” or “conscious.” This is an improvement in comparison to a few years ago, when news outlets were creating sensational stories about AI systems inventing their own language, taking over every job, and accelerating toward artificial general intelligence.
But the fact that we’re discussing sentience and consciousness again underlines an important point: We are at a point where our AI systems—namely large language models—are becoming increasingly convincing while still suffering from fundamental flaws that have been pointed out by scientists on different occasions. And I know that “AI fooling humans” has been discussed since the ELIZA chatbot in the 1960s, but today’s LLMs are really at another level. If you don’t know how language models work, Blake Lemoine’s conversations with LaMDA seem almost look surreal—even if they had been cherry-picked and edited.
However, the point I want to make here is that “sentience” and “consciousness” is not the best discussion to have about LLMs and current AI technology. A more important discussion would be one about human compatibility and trust, especially since these technologies are being prepared to be integrated into everyday applications.
Read the full article on TechTalks.
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