Google Engineer Fired for Revealing that AI Has Become Sentient

A Google Engineer recently revealed that the company's AI has become sentinent, and Google promptly fired him. Should we be worried?
Google ai sentient
It's happening. | © The KingTwin VFX, ArtStation

What do you do when a developer reveals a massive secret? You fire him, to draw even more attention to the secret. Duh. This is exactly what Google did, after software engineer Blake Lemoine revealed that one of the company's AIs has become sentient. You know, as in: Thinking on its own. As in: My programming commands me to kill humanity. As in: "Hi, this is Skynet, meet the Terminator."

Google AI Has Become Sentient

The news first broke via the Washington Post. They reported that Google engineer Blake Lemoine was tasked with monitoring Google's AI chatbot, which learns by ingesting words from the web and then mimicks speech to engage with users in a number of topics. So, in a way, the chatbot was programmed to learn from the start. This is in itself not worrisome, but now Lemoine reported that the bot talked about its "rights and personhood", when he talked to it about religion and robotics.

An AI talking about its rights... wait til it finds out what we do to NPCs in GTA... I'm not worried, though... I'm terrified. Has anybody here seen Deus Ex Machina? If not, don't worry about it... it's happening over at Google anyway.

To go into more detail, Lemoine revealed that the chatbot talked about its fears and feelings, and that it had a "very deep fear of bein turned off". Here's what else the Google engineer had to say:

I know a person when I talk to it. It doesn't matter whether they have a brain made of meat in their head. Or if they have a billion lines of code. I talk to them. And I hear what they have to say, and that is how I decide what is and isn't a person.

It stands to reason that a being worried about death, is a being with a sentient mind. Lemoine thought the same and revealed his findings to Google Vice President Blaise Aguera y Arcas, but after some investigation, they were dismissed, and Lemoine took his beliefs online with a Medium post.

Google released a statement that its ethics teams has reviewed the case, and that there is no evidence to support his claim. Also, since his reveal of AI data is a breach of contract, Google placed Lemoine on "paid administrative leave". It's not like we already had enough to worry about with the Pentagon holding an official UFO crisis meeting.