Who is Blake Lemoine?
- He was part of the U.S. Army up till 2005 when he was discharged for not obeying orders
- He joined Google as a software engineer in 2015
- He was recently fired from Google for claiming an AI had achieved sentience
Blake Lemoine is a software engineer, a priest, a veteran of the Iraq war, an ex-convict and an AI researcher according to his Medium.com page.
He made his way into the news in June this year when he created a post on Medium claiming that the artificial intelligence that he had been working on was showing signs of sentience. According to him, Google’s AI LaMDA had shown signs of understanding the concepts of emotions, had developed self-awareness and was expressing concerns about death. In that blog post, he published an extract of his conversations with the AI.
Lemoine was part of Google’s Responsible AI team that was tasked with testing whether LaMDA was able to detect hate speech. The 41-year-old discovered the alleged “sentience” while running tests on the AI. However, the software engineer was fired from Google after the company found that his claims did not pass their 11 different reviews. In addition, he had been put on administrative leave in June following his announcement because he had breached his confidentiality clause by revealing his findings to government officials.
Before he got a job at Google, the AI researcher studied at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, completing both his master’s and undergraduate degrees in computer science. Lemoine was also in the U.S. army, sometime up till 2005. That year, he was court-martialled by a military court for disobeying orders after he had spent a year in Iraq. Lemoine had wanted to quit the army due to his religious beliefs and had filed an application as a Conscientious Objector. During his time in the army, he spoke out about the violence perpetrated against Iraqi’s by American soldier, saying, “Iraqi civilians are often treated worse than animals."