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Wednesday, June 16, 2021 | 06:41 am
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Google’s New AI Can Have Eerily Human-Like Conversations

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Google’s New AI Can Have Eerily Human-Like Conversations

Google has unveiled a creepily human-like language model called LaMDA that CEO Sundar Pichai says “can converse on any topic.”

During a demo at Google I/O 2021 on Wednesday, Pichai showcased how LaMDA can enable new ways of conversing with data, like chatting to Pluto about life in outer space or asking a paper airplane about its worst travel experiences.

Pichai said LaMDA generates a natural conversation style by synthesizing concepts — like the Horizon spacecraft and the coldness of the cosmos — from its training data, rather than hand-programming them in the model.

As the responses aren’t pre-defined, they maintain an open-ended dialogue that Pichai said “never takes the same path twice” and can cover any topic.

The model also assumed an eerily anthropomorphic form. The AI paper plane, for instance, addressed its interlocutor as “my good friend” while Pluto complained that it’s an under-appreciated planet.

The flow of the conversations was impressively lifelike in the demo, but the model sometimes generated nonsensical responses — like Pluto claiming it’s been practicing flips in outer space, or abruptly ending the conversation to go flying.

It remains a research project for now, but Pichai suggested it could be used in a range of products.

While LaMDA is only trained on text, Pichai said Google is also working on multimodal models that can help people also communicate across images, audio, and video.

Paper planes take many forms. Inevitably, Pichai promised that the model meets Google’s “incredibly high standards on fairness, accuracy, safety, and privacy”, and is being developed in line with the company’s AI principles.

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