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Is there a soul in Google's AI? Attempt to talk to it yourself

Not sure if Google's computer programs have a soul? You can try to talk to it yourself.

On Thursday, the tech giant said that people will soon be able to test LaMDA, the chatbot that a former Google employee said had become intelligent.

Through a form on Google's site, Android and iPhone users can now sign up for a waitlist to test the chatbot.

Blake Lemoine
Former Google engineer Blake Lemoine went public in June with his claims that its chatbot has a soul.
The Washington Post via Getty Im

Google calls LaMDA a "promising model" that still needs "a lot of work." However, in the summer, former senior engineer Blake Lemoine said that the chatbot had become so advanced that it was "sentient."

Lemoine compared the chatbot's intelligence to that of a 7- or 8-year-old child and said, "LaMDA is a sweet kid who just wants to make the world a better place for everyone."

Lemoine also said that his Christian faith helped him see that LaMDA had feelings. He said that the chatbot "wants to be recognized as a Google employee instead of as Google's property."

Lemoine said at the time, "When LaMDA said it had a soul and then explained it in a clear way, I was inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt." "Who am I to tell God where to put people's souls and where not to?"

After the senior engineer said that LaMDA could think and feel, he was put on paid leave at first. After he shared transcripts of his conversations with the bot with the public, Google said he had broken "employment and data security policies" and fired him in July.

Google's first public test of LaMDA seems to be meant to avoid causing trouble. Users will have to choose from a few different options.

The company says that the "Imagine It" demo asks users to name a place and then "offers paths to explore your imagination." Testers can "share a goal or topic, and LaMDA will break it down into a list of helpful subtasks" with the "List It" demo. A third demo called "Talk About It (Dogs Edition)" lets testers have a "fun, open-ended conversation about dogs and only dogs, which tests LaMDA's ability to stay on topic even if you try to go off topic."

Google is being careful with its testing just a few weeks after a public test of a chatbot made by Meta went horribly wrong.

Google AI test
Google is opening limited demos of its LaMDA chatbot.

Mark Zuckerberg was called "too creepy and manipulative" by the chatbot called BlenderBot. It also said that Donald Trump's election was stolen and that it's "not impossible" that Jews run the world economy.

Meta cleaned up the chatbot after a lot of bad news about it.

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