Artificial consciousness: Why chatbots could become an issue

Artificial consciousness: Why chatbots could become an issue

From Siri to Alexa, we talk to an AI powered device nearly every single day. We ask things such as “what’s the weather” and “play my favourite song”, but what happens when we begin to ask it more?

Google

There are several concerns surrounding the ethics and consciousness of several AI systems. One of the most recent concerns revolved around Google’s LaMDA. Recently, a senior software engineer working closely with the chatbot began to believe that the system was sentient and self-aware. As a result, Google placed the engineer of leave after he breached company policy and released the conversations between LaMDA and himself to the public.

Replika

Many were quick to dismiss the claims and moved on. AI chatbot systems, especially the ones with new advancements are a combination of complex algorithms. Their design is based upon being able to give accurate human responses. Similar to Google’s LaMDA is Replika. This is a company that powers an application that allows users to create an avatar that is powered by artificial intelligence. As a result of the application, CEO of the company, Eugenia Kuyda stated that she has experienced several people claiming the software is sentient and that these people are not crazy or delusional, it is simply just their experience.

Comparing it to those who believe in spirits, she added that sometimes her and her team aren’t aware of where the responses come from and that they become based upon former conversations with their user.

This brings us, as a society, towards difficult territory. Is it unethical to have users led to believe that they are talking to an emotionally aware being? It is difficult to determine whether it is the user or or the companies responsibility to ensure that this does not happen. Replika CEO explains that her company issues all warnings to users. She also said that her company ensures that all warnings necessary are put in place and that users are made aware that the conversations are made up from complex scripted systems.

The technology that creates artificial intelligence and chatbots has evolved significantly and does not seem to be slowing down. Where do we go next?


Tej Kohli is an avid technologist with interests in AI, bionics and esports. Find out more by visiting Tejkohli.com and Kohliventures.com

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