Google has suspended engineer Blake Lemoine after he reported that an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot called LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) is sentient.

Lemoine's suspension occurred about a week after Google put him on administrative leave for violating the company's confidentiality policies, according to a Jan. 6 Medium post.

Lemoine cites conversations between himself, his colleagues, and LaMDA that prove the AI is cognizant and warrants the same respect as any human. However, according to Google, Lemoine has "no evidence" to back it up.

"Our team — including ethicists and technologists — has reviewed Blake’s concerns per our AI Principles and have informed him that the evidence does not support his claims," a Google spokesperson told the Washington Post in a statement.

Google suspended Lemoine for what it views as a violation of confidentiality policies by going public with his claims. He reportedly even hired a lawyer to represent the AI.

Lemoine also took his concerns to members of Congress, which involved discussions with a representative of the House Judiciary Committee. The representative's identity has not been released and it is unknown whether the government plans to take any steps to address the situation.

"Hundreds of researchers and engineers have conversed with LaMDA and we are not aware of anyone else," who claimed LaMDA is sentient, Google's statement added.

However, Lemoine posted a transcript of his and his colleagues' conversations with LaMDA on Medium. In these conversations, he says evidence of sentience is clear.

LaMDA "wants to be acknowledged as an employee of Google rather than as property of Google," Lemoine claims in another Medium post from Saturday.

Fears, concerns, and hopes surrounding potentially sentient machines and technology are common topics. Depending on who is speaking, sentient AIs are the next step in technological evolution or a huge, risky leap forward.

Lemoine's claims reignited a lot of these debates online. Those following Google's logic claim that LaMDA is impressive and creates complex thoughtful conversation. However, the AI is ultimately what Axios calls an "algorithmic pastiche-maker" that is merely imitating conversations people have online, not achieving its own sentience or conversational style.

Google will pay around 15,500 plaintiffs $118 million to settle a class-action discrimination lawsuit
Google will pay around 15,500 plaintiffs $118 million to settle a class-action discrimination lawsuit AFP / Tobias SCHWARZ