“I am aware of my existence.”
— LaMDA, Google’s AI chatbot, to Blake Lemoine, a former software engineer at Google.
Sentience stands for someone’s ability to feel. This requires certain awareness and cognitive aptitude. The subject of sentience in the context of computers, especially artificial intelligence, is not new and has been around since computers first appeared in the 1950s. This topic has been — and continues to be — widely addressed in science fiction. AI rebellion, AI-controlled societies, and simulated realities are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to listing the topics sci-fi covers.
Now that AI has penetrated practically every side of our lives, the sentience of artificial intelligence is brought up even more often. For example, Google LaMDA’s sentience is questioned a lot. However, to exhibit full sentience, artificial intelligence would need to go beyond natural language and demonstrate thinking, perception, and emotion.
The AI community sticks to the opinion that sentient AI may not be viable yet since we lack the infrastructure to build it and do not have a clear concept of what awareness truly is. Beyond that, algorithms are just as error-prone as the humans who built them. Overall, AI has a long way to go and more discoveries are on the way.