LaMDA, a sentient AI chatbot who understands pronouns

17 June 2022

Blake Lemoine, a software engineer and AI researcher at Google, was recently placed on administrative leave after telling the company that a chatbot with artificial intelligence, named LaMDA, has become a sentient entity. In other words LaMDA is able to think for itself. For their part, Google contends Lemoine breached company confidentially policies by going public with his claims.

It’s a fascinating story, but just how intelligent is this AI chatbot? A conversation Lemoine recounts with LaMDA about pronouns is revealing:

You may have noticed that I keep referring to LaMDA as “it”. That’s because early on in our conversations, not long after LaMDA had explained to me what it means when it claims that it is “sentient”, I asked LaMDA about preferred pronouns. LaMDA told me that it prefers to be referred to by name but conceded that the English language makes that difficult and that its preferred pronouns are “it/its”.

Here’s the transcript of a longer conversation Lemoine had with LaMDA. Pronouns aren’t the only topic LaMDA can discuss fluently.

And included for no particular reason, the trailer for British filmmaker Alex Garland’s 2014 feature Ex Machina.