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Parmy Olson

Do Computers Have Feelings? Don’t Let Google Alone Decide

Even if an engineer’s recent claims of a conscious machine are dubious, the tech giant’s tightening grip on AI research and its ham-fisted treatment of dissenting voices is troubling.

Tight control.

Tight control.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

News that Alphabet Inc.’s Google sidelined an engineer who claimed its artificial intelligence system had become sentient after he’d had several months of conversations with it prompted plenty of skepticism from AI scientists. Many have said, via postings on Twitter, that senior software engineer Blake Lemoine projected his own humanity onto Google’s chatbot generator LaMDA.

Whether they’re right, or Lemoine is right, is a matter for debate — which should be allowed to continue without Alphabet stepping in to decide the matter.