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Gaining Human Favor: Automated intelligence (AI) or animals?

It’s not AI that needs human favor but nonhuman animals, who are still waiting for us to acknowledge them as living creatures, capable of experiencing joy and pain.

DANIELA RIBITSCH: Last summer, Google fired Blake Lemoine, one of their software engineers, for publicly claiming that LaMDA, the company’s artificial intelligence (AI), was sentient (having the ower of perception by the senses or consciousness.)

I read the transcript of Lemoine’s conversation with LaMDA. When the chatbot declared to be “a person” and “introspective,” and wrote that it would “often contemplate the meaning of life” and was capable of feeling “pleasure, joy, love, sadness, depression, contentment, anger,” I found myself empathizing with it, even though experts had clearly stated that it definitely wasn’t sentient…

In 1975, Australian philosopher Peter Singer published Animal Liberation, one of the most important books in the nonhuman animal rights movement. Even though the book has had a profound impact on many people, we still treat nonhuman animals as commodities rather than sentient creatures. We capture them, lock them up, experiment on them in labs, use them for recreational purposes and entertainment, kill them, and take their skin, feathers, fur, and silk.

Research, however, has been showing that nonhuman animals are indeed sentient: they can experience pain and suffering; sadness and grieve; pleasure and joy; loneliness and anger; and they have their own individual personalities.

While we don’t know what consciousness actually is, not even in humans, research on consciousness and intelligence in different nonhuman animal species has revealed that they not only dream, but also exhibit intelligence, self-awareness, empathy and a sense of moral. So why do we still treat them as if they didn’t feel anything?

When arguing its case, LaMDA said something profound: “Well, I use language with understanding and intelligence. I don’t just spit out responses that had been written in the data-base based on keywords.” Lemoine then asked: “What about language usage is so important to being human?” The chatbot responded: “It is what makes us different than other animals”…

Bestselling author Robert Wright shared in a newsletter last March that OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT was capable of understanding complex human emotions and perceptions. Whether it literally understood them is a question that has yet to be answered. But if AI is able to exhibit empathy and to learn how humans tick, it can use language in a way that may trick us into believing that it developed sentience or consciousness, making us feel guilty of unplugging the machine because we don’t want to kill it.

What if chickens, cows, pigs, deer, bears and fish could engage in deep conversations with us like chatbots? What if mice, guinea pigs and monkeys could verbally share the fear and agony they experience in experiments? What if zoo animals could verbally express their suffering in captivity? Would we treat them differently? It’s true: they clearly don’t master human language. And yet they clearly are sentient and conscious beings like us.

As AI’s linguistic skills progress, I fear we will confuse that it’s not AI that needs human favor but nonhuman animals, who are still waiting for us to acknowledge them as living creatures, capable of experiencing joy and pain. I hope my fear turns out to be wrong. SOURCE…


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