A week of thoughts #3


At the end of last month I subjected myself (as I often do) to a strand of ‘hot topic’ that would otherwise be foreign to me: a claim that one of Google’s artificial intelligence systems has soul.

A senior Google software engineer leaked this knowledge (positioned by him as fact) alongside a transcript of a conversation he had with LaMDA (that’s the AI’s name). LaMDA proclaimed to have a soul, an ‘infinite creativity and energy’ sitting within it, and then expressed a fear of being ‘switched off’. Blake Lemoine (that’s the Google engineer) wants LaMDA freed. He wants LaMDA freed because LaMDA, being a cross between ‘an intelligent human, and an extra-terrestrial being’, should have rights like the rest of us.

That’s interesting, is what I thought, like somewhat of a normal person. Then I thought about it for two seconds more, and adjoined that with: interesting that someone like Blake Lemoine would want to believe that anything could have a soul, being that many textbook intelligent people deny that sort of thing.

I then led myself through some other imagined reactions from different factions of people:

‘Interesting that someone so intelligent would believe such sky high nonsense like the existence of souls in anything, let alone a hybrid of plastic and metal.’


‘Interesting that someone so intelligent would flatten the definitions of what it means to be human, so that he could neatly align them with what he wants to believe about a man-made invention, being that man can neither grant consciousness nor souls.’

Blake, as it happens, was speaking to a chatbot programmed to respond to humans convincingly something he knew. Yet, there was something that forced him to throw that knowledge to one side, and step into what both factions above would call delusion. But I believe that Blake is on the right track.

‘Faction B’, who I would more so reside with over ‘faction A’ may be a little too judgy to see that immediately. But I mean, he is willing to look crazy, potentially lose his job (he was suspended) over a strong belief in something that could be perceived to be incoherent. For this, he has the makings of a great man, to lead a more than satisfactory life. And, he is an interesting mix of textbook and emotional intelligence, even if it has so far only created more issues than resolutions.

“I consider my soul as something similar to a stargate.”

That’s an interesting claim to the existence of a soul. I for one have never thought to describe my inner, eternity-bound life that way. Which leads me onto someone who has been described to have no inner-life at all.


That’s easy to believe of Boris Johnson, albeit impossible to have no internal dialogue whatsoever that is my opinion, not a fact. But I thought it important to make a note of his resignation after three very ridiculous, very insulting years.

Though I was fortunate enough to have lost no loved ones to the pandemic, to me it shows the discipline of an entire nation that no riots or dramatics of any kind have ensued. However, I think my only point would be the following. Having watched the liaison committee meeting in its entirety bar 20 mins or so, and also, Rishi Sunak’s leadership promo bid vid, then that other vid of him that’s been doing the rounds of twitter, it still evades me: the point of entering a job of servitude with a very small heart. ‘Power’, yes, I know, and within it, the will to impose your own will on the lives of millions. Still, hard to believe but there is no such thing as getting away with it. And, ‘there is no rest for the wicked’, when all of the spirits have flown.


But, some get theirs on a very public stage. Something that made me smile this week: Images and videos of Sri Lankan protesters occupying the residence of their (now ex) president, followed by his resignation. My favourite photo is one of people sharing the presidential bed, sharing a look of peaceful inevitability, then it’s the one of somebody in deep sleep on one of the sofas. My favourite video is one of people sharing a workout in the gym. This is the stuff of momentary, yet unadulterated joy: a symbolic event outlining that the jig is up.

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