All You Wanted to Know about Google LaMDA

All You Wanted to Know about Google LaMDA

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Updated on Jul 10, 2023 10:51 IST

Learn all about Google LaMDA – right from how it works, its training and main objectives.


Google’s LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) can be described as a family of conversational neural language models.
LaMDA gained widespread attention in June 2022 after Google engineer Blake Lemoine claimed that the chatbot had become sentient.

To counter the rise of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google released Bard, which is a conversational artificial intelligence chatbot powered by LaMDA, in February 2023. In this blog, let’s talk about some crucial attributes of Google LamDA.

Introduction to Language Models

A language model is the fundamental building block of modern Natural Language Processing (NLP). It is a statistical tool that analyses human language patterns to predict words.

Language models are used in NLP-based applications for a variety of tasks such as audio-to-text conversion, speech recognition, sentiment analysis, summarization, spell correction, and so on.

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Let’s look at how language models can help with these NLP tasks:

Recognition of Speech: Alexa and other smart speakers use automatic speech recognition (ASR) mechanisms to convert speech to text. It translates the spoken words into text, and the ASR mechanism analyses the user’s intent/sentiments by differentiating between the words. For example, consider homophone phrases like “Let her” or “Letter”, “But her” or “Butter”.

Machine Translation: When translating the Japanese phrase “食べている” (I am Eating) into English, Google Translate can provide several options as output:

I’m eating my lunch

I’m eating.

Am I eating?

The language model indicates that the translation “I am eating” sounds natural and will recommend it as output.

What is LaMDA?

LaMDA is a language model. A language model examines language use in natural language processing.
Fundamentally, it’s a mathematical function that defines a potential result about predicting what the subsequent words in a sequence will be (or a statistical tool).

Additionally, it can forecast the following phrase and even the possible arrangement of the subsequent paragraphs.

One more Example of a language model is the GPT-3 language generator from OpenAI.

With GPT-3, you can input the subject and guidelines for writing in a specific author’s manner, and it will produce, for example, a short story or essay.

LaMDA differs from other language models in that it was developed using conversation rather than text. But, GPT-3’s primary goal is to produce language writing.

What distinguishes LaMDA is its ability to generate conversation in a freeform manner that is not constrained by the parameters of task-based responses.

A conversational language model must comprehend concepts such as Multimodal user intent, reinforcement learning, and recommendations for the conversation to jump between unrelated topics.

LaMDA, like other language models (such as MUM and GPT-3), is based on the Transformer neural network architecture for language understanding.

First Generation

On May 18, 2021, Google unveiled the LaMDA conversational neural language model, which is driven by artificial intelligence. “Language Model for Dialogue Apps” is the name of the abbreviation.
LaMDA has been trained on human dialogue along with stories and is based on the seq2seq architecture, transformer-based neural networks created by Google Research in 2017. This architecture enables LaMDA to participate in open-ended conversations. According to Google, LaMDA’s responses have been checked to be “sensible, interesting, and specific to the situation.

Second Generation

LaMDA 2 was revealed by Google on May 11, 2022, as part of the keynote address for the 2022 Google I/O conference. The updated model version uses text samples from various sources to create original “natural conversations” on subjects that it might not have been taught to address.

What Makes LaMDA So Unique?

It is the ability to determine the appropriateness of a conversation. Except for a few pre-programmed dialogues, most traditional chatbots are not advanced enough to carry on conversations on their own. LaMDA, on the other hand, does not rely on a set of dialogues to be repeated over and over.
It can detect which words are relevant to the context of a particular conversation, allowing it to provide much more specific responses.

Is LaMDA Sentient?

Let’s begin with sentience. Sentience, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is the ability to experience and feel pleasure, pain, and fear, which humans and many animals have. How do we know that humans possess this ability?

Soon after its release, Google suspended one of the LaMDA’s engineers for claiming that the model was sentient. The story gained traction, and a discussion ensued. Is it possible for machines to have sentience? Can neural networks have feelings?

It’s like claiming that an object detection model is sentient when it isn’t! Similarly, LaMDA is a large language model that only uses words to predict the next words. For instance, if I ask, “What is your name?” the next few words will be “My name is John.” All it does is provide the most relevant response.

So, it should be obvious that LaMDA is not conscious.

How was LaMDA Built?

LaMDA is built on a type of neural architecture called Transformer. Transformer essentially outperforms recurrent and convolutional neural models (the more typical machine learning systems of the late teens) in terms of both training performance (the time to build the model) and resulting accuracy (how good it is at doing its thing). This is true even though this stuff quickly becomes complex.

The transformer analyses entire sentences simultaneously and can model relationships between them to better comprehend a contextually nuanced meaning as opposed to depending on a step-by-step analysis of text input. It also requires fewer steps to complete its work because it performs this kind of comprehensive analysis all at once. The fewer steps a machine learning model has, much easier it is to teach it to perform its task successfully.

How LaMDA was Trained?

LaMDA, like other language models (such as MUM and GPT-3), is based on the Transformer neural network architecture for language understanding.

“That architecture generates a model that can be trained to read a large number of words (a sentence or paragraph, for example), pay attention to how those words relate to one another, and then predict what words it believes will follow.”

LaMDA is a model that has been trained to understand the context of a conversation.

Google explains it this way:

“LaMDA, unlike most other language models, was trained on dialogue. It picked up on several of the nuances that distinguish open-ended conversation from other forms of language during its training. Sensibility is one of those nuances. Simply put, does the response to a specific conversational context make sense?

Satisfying responses are also specific, referring directly to the context of the conversation.”


The Google team created a dataset of 1.56T words from multiple public web documents for the pre-training stage.

This dataset is then tokenized (converted into a string of characters to form sentences) into 2.81T tokens, which are used to train the model.

During pre-training, the model employs general and scalable parallelization to forecast the next segment of the conversation based on previous tokens seen.


During the phase of fine-tuning, LaMDA is trained to perform generation and classification tasks.

Based on the back-and-forth conversation, the LaMDA generator that predicts the next part of the dialogue can generate several relevant responses.

The LaMDA classifiers will then predict the level of safety and quality for every response.

Any response with a low safety score is discarded before the highest-scoring response is chosen to continue the conversation.

The percentages are based on safety, sensibility, specificity, and interest.


The goal is to provide the most relevant, high-quality, and ultimately safe response.

How LaMDA Works?

LaMDA has been trained to discover patterns in sentences, and even correlations between the different words used in those sentences. It can also predict the next word.

It accomplishes this by analyzing datasets made up of dialogue rather than individual words.

While a conversational AI system is similar to chatbot software, there are some significant differences.

Chatbots, for example, are trained on limited, specific datasets and can only have a limited conversation based on the data and exact questions on which they are trained.

LaMDA, on the other hand, can have open-ended conversations because it is trained on multiple datasets.

It takes up on the nuances of open-ended dialogue during the training process and adapts.

Depending on the flow of the conversation, it can answer questions on a wide range of topics.

As a result, it enables conversations that are more akin to human interaction than chatbots can frequently provide.

Key Objectives of LaMDA

Three main objectives are designed for training the model. They are: 

  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Groundedness


The quality score is used to ensure that a response makes sense in the context in which it is used, that it is relevant to the question asked, and that it is thought insightful enough to foster better dialogue.

This is based on three dimensions of human raters:

  • Sensibleness
  • Specificity
  • Interestingness


To ensure safety, the model adheres to responsible AI standards. To capture and review the model’s behavior, a set of safety objectives is used.

This ensures that the output has no unintended consequences and is free of bias.


The ratio of responses containing claims about the external world is defined as groundedness.

This is used to ensure that responses are as “factually accurate as possible, allowing users to judge response valid based on its source’s reliability.”


Google LaMDA is a revolutionary conversational chatbot with the potential to change the Internet’s landscape. Because of its friendly, human nature, LaMDA can make the Internet more accessible, understandable, and usable.

Although it has not yet been commercially released, it is incredibly intriguing based solely on the demos. There are, of course, major issues such as privacy and ethics that pose potential threats, but Google is extremely cautious about the misuse of LaMDA, so the chatbot has a bright future ahead of it.


What are the limitations of LaMDA?

LaMDA can still make mistakes and make false statements in conversation. It has yet to master the skill set (specificity, factuality, interestingness, and sensibility). It can still make illogical statements, it needs better conversation tactics, and, most importantly, it can only use text so far.

What are the possible threats to LaMDA?

LaMDA is still vulnerable to the flood of misinformation that exists on the internet. It may unintentionally internalize biases, imitate hate speech directed at minorities, or spread misinformation. It may also face ethical issues as well as privacy concerns. Google is still attempting to resolve all of these issues.

What are the potential applications of LaMDA?

LaMDA can be used to create a virtual assistant for Google Workspace, navigate Google's search engine, enhance conversations, and translate in real time, among other things.

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