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There is a switch in the burner assembly that senses the burner is hot. It could be the sensor switch is bad. It also could be the surface switch itself that has a welded contact that is causing the hot surface light to stay on. i would look at the thermal switch on the burner itself first.
Individual burners, located directly under the cooktop glass, contain a temp sensor which lights up the hot surface lamp when they sense a hot condition. If the light stays on after all burners are cool, one of the sensors has shorted out. The sensors are an integral part of the burner, so the offending burner must be replaced to solve your constant on hot light.
mvek, If you could see through the glass, you'd see "temperature sensors" located near the elements. They're very sensitive little guys, and rightly so! Their job is to detect temps and energize the warning light on the cooktop so users won't get burned.
To answer your question... It appears that there is an issue with the front left sensor (and possibly the right as well). The temp warning lamps should NEVER go off immediately. Please call for warranty repair (1-800-GE-CARES). This is an unsafe condition for you and your Family. The warning indicators are there for a reason and should indicate high temp's as long as high temp's are present.
The component that controls the hot surface light is part of the element. If there is a light for each element you just replace that element. If there's one for the whole surface or each side you'll have to figure out which element is causing the problem.
Coffy, if you are talking about the hot surface indicator lights, they are controlled by the limiter on the burner itself. When the burner heats up the limiter closes and sends power to the light (hot surface). When the burner cools the limiter is supposed to open cutting power to the hot surface indicator light. They may be stuck closed. If you are talking about the lights on the back panel, that is controlled by the infinate switch itself. Catriver