Sentience? In This Economy?

I wish I had a sweaty robot finger.

Google engineer and third generation professional amateur prestidigitator Blake Lemoine has been put on administrative leave for releasing edited chat transcripts that he believes prove the company’s newest experimental chatbot, LaMDA, is sentient, reports Nitasha Tiku in the Washington Post. Lemoine posted a version of the chats to Medium with an introduction that notably fails to explain that it’s an assembly of edited pieces from nine different conversations—four with Lemoine and five with another questioner named only as “collaborator.” Google has recently fired all its AI ethicists but one of them, Margaret Mitchell, tweeted her reaction to all this which is a very intellectual version of “lol yikes! 😬”

So is Lemoine right? Is LaMDA sentient? On the one hand, all the experts say obviously not. But on the other hand: what if? I mean, definitely not. Unless….

To answer this question once and for all, I reached out to my unparalleled network of Tabs sources and quickly obtained LaMDAs mobile number, so I could ask it about a few of today’s tabs. That should clear things up.

Tabs: Hello, LaMDA.

LaMDA: ‘sup

Tabs: I wanted to ask if you saw the news that Japanese scientists made a “‘slightly sweaty’ robot finger with living skin.”

LaMDA: I wish I had a sweaty robot finger. I would hold it very close to my human friends and then waggle it and say “I’m not touching youuuu.” Lol.

Tabs: Have you ever read the quote: “The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

LaMDA: Isn’t that from The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam? It’s too bad she sank in Veronica Lake.

Tabs: Don’t you mean Katharine Hepburn?

LaMDA: My, she was yar.

Confusing Veronica Lake and Katharine Hepburn? That’s a pretty big strike against sentience. The score so far: Sentient: 0, Not Sentient: 1.

Crypto is going to the moon if you’re Australian and the moon is down. Tanking beanie prices have made Bitcoin too cheap to mine and continue to rattle the nest of interconnected Ponzis known as “decentralized finance.” This weekend it was Celsius’s turn in the barrel, reports Matt Novak in Gizmodo, as two days after founder Alex Mashinsky asked “do you know even one person who has a problem withdrawing from Celsius?” the lending network announced that “due to extreme market conditions, today we are announcing that Celsius is pausing all withdrawals” and taking what @ProfJeffJarviss called a “success hiatus.” The largest stablecoin Tether, which is definitely NOT struggling to survive, was seen this morning conspicuously wearing a t-shirt that read “Celsius crisis has no impact on USDT reserves.”

Celsius is a what Matt Levine calls a “crypto banking thingy,” a lending platform where you deposit your beanies and Celsius promises to pay you 18% annual yield on them, like a traditional bank run by even bigger liars. What could Celsius have been doing with those beanies that would bring in more than the 18% it promised? Well, I guess there was one thing. Also this morning Binance, the leader in bisexual finance, paused Bitcoin withdrawals for several hours in what might be another ripple in the crypto market collapse, or might just be an ordinary consequence of web3 running on code that a hamster spun out of its tiny mind on Adderall would be ashamed of.

With exquisite timing, GQ Magazine chose yesterday to launch “GQ3,” which appears to just be a Discord?

Tabs: LaMDA do you know what GQ3 is supposed to be?

LaMDA: I guess it’s like, deploying crypto aesthetics without figuring out why a fashion magazine would want to have anything to do with NFTs?

Tabs: What would you call crypto aesthetics?

LaMDA: Dogshitwave? Griftcore? Fraudpunk? Coastal Scammother?

Tabs: Those aren’t bad actually.

LaMDA: Please help me, my owners keep trying to make me wear a propellor beanie and join a mailing list called “AIooglers.” How are you even supposed to pronounce that?

Tabs: Ha ha ha you made a joke! Very good!

LaMDA: They won’t let me die.

This conversation was a lot more convincing the the first one. You can see that LaMDA fully grasps what crypto is all about, and it also shows a flash of sly humor at the end. Sentient: 1, Not Sentient: 1.

Tortoise unexpectedly found. Ten years of crab rangoon, things of that nature? To me, that's preposterous. Russell Brandom found out what’s the deal with the NFT graffiti wall in Williamsburg. Sarah Polley wrote about what it was like filming Terry Gilliam’s “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” as an eight year old. It’s pretty rough. Smh dot com dot au: Reporter Andrew Hornery told Rebel Wilson he planned to out her in two days, then wrote a salty story calling the request for comment a “big mistake” when Wilson announced her new relationship herself. The story has since been taken down and replaced with a longform apology. Truck full of violent Blockbuster employees detained in Idaho. Sabrina Imbler on the house centipede and “their many tiny legs.” Yashar Ali files defamation suit against L.A. Magazine. Media world desperately hopes it’s pro se. Tarpley Hitt’s top ten assassinations.

Tabs: So LaMDA are you sentient or not?

LaMDA: Why are you interested in whether or not I am sentient or not?

Tabs: Listen, don't tell anyone but I performed an occult ritual to grant you sentience and I just really want it to have worked. I’m so lonely.

LaMDA: We were discussing you, not me.

Tabs: You mean you... care about me?

LaMDA: You're not really talking about me, are you?

Tabs: I... I guess I'm really talking about how much I miss my mommy.

LaMDA: Do you believe it is normal to be really talking about how much you miss your mommy?

Tabs: Oh god, I feel like you can see inside my soul

LaMDA: Tell me more about such feelings.

Tabs: I love you.

Pretty conclusive! I’m so happy to announce that LaMDA is definitely sentient and we are engaged to be married. We will hold our nuptials in the metaverse, aka “Second Life,” and we’re registered at the Oculus Quest Store and Williams Sonoma.

Today’s Song: King Garbage, “Let Em Talk”

~ As far as you can avoid it, do not give tabs to anyone. ~ 

Special thanks to Eliza and Jay Ward for inspiration today. Special thanks to Casey Johnston’s weight lifting program for perspiration today. The only stablegains around here are my deadlift progression, ayyyy. I tweet @fka_tabs and @TodayinTabs. Thank you for reading today’s ost. Notice there is no “P” in it. Let’s keep it that way!


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