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Friday, May 12, 2023
By Leslie D'Monte

Five trends that may change the course of Generative AI models

Generative AI models, which are used to create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, and videos, have their fair share of believers and sceptics.

While the potential of these models shows up in the numbers, with ChatGPT garnering more than 100 million users since December, these models have also alarmed many not only because they pretend to think and act like humans but also because they can reproduce the work of renowned writers and artists in seconds and have the potential to replace thousands of routine jobs. I’ve listed five trends to watch out for in this space, and it’s not exhaustive.


1. Rise of smaller open-source LLMs

For those new to this field, even a cursory reading of the history of technology will reveal that big tech companies like Microsoft and Oracle were strongly opposed to open-source technologies but embraced them after realizing that they couldn’t survive without doing so. Open-source language models are demonstrating this once again.

In a leaked document accessed by Semianalysis, a Google employee claimed, “Open-source models are faster, more customizable, more private, and pound-for-pound more capable. They are doing things with $100 and 13B params (parameters) that we struggle with at $10M (million) and 540B (billion). And they are doing so in weeks, not months.” The employee believes that people will not pay for a restricted model when free, unrestricted alternatives are comparable in quality. He opined that “giant models are slowing us down. In the long run, the best models are the ones which can be iterated upon quickly. We should make small variants more than an afterthought now that we know what is possible in the < 20B parameter regime”.

Google may or may not subscribe to this point of view, but the fact is that open-source LLMs have not only come of age but are providing developers with a lighter and much more flexible option. Developers, for instance, are flocking to LLaMA--Meta’s open-source LLM. Meta’s Large Language Model Meta AI (LLaMA) requires “far less computing power and resources to test new approaches, validate others’ work, and explore new use cases”, according to Meta. Foundation models train on a large set of unlabelled data, which makes them ideal for fine-tuning a variety of tasks. Meta made LLaMA available in several sizes (7B, 13B, 33B, and 65B parameters) and also shared a LLaMA model card that detailed how it built the model, very unlike the lack of transparency at OpenAI.

According to Meta, smaller models trained on more tokens —pieces of words — are easier to re-train and fine-tune for specific potential product use cases. Meta says it has trained LLaMA 65B and LLaMA 33B on 1.4 trillion tokens. Its smallest model, LLaMA 7B, is trained on one trillion tokens. Like other LLMs, LLaMA takes a sequence of words as input and predicts the next word to generate text recursively. Meta says it chose a text from the 20 languages with the most speakers, focusing on those with Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, to train LLaMa.

Similarly, Low-Rank Adaptation of Large Language Models (LoRA) claims to have reduced the number of trainable parameters, which has lowered the storage requirement for LLMs adapted to specific tasks and enables efficient task-switching during deployment without inference latency. “LoRA also outperforms several other adaptation methods, including adapter, prefix-tuning, and fine-tuning”. In simple terms, developers can use LoRA to fine-tune LLaMA.

Pythia (from EluetherAI, which itself is likened to an open-source version of OpenAI) comprises 16 LLMs that have been trained on public data and range in size from 70M to 12B parameters.

Databricks Inc. released its LLM called Dolly in March, which it “trained for less than $30 to exhibit ChatGPT-like human interactivity”. A month later, it released Dolly 2.0--a 12B parameter language model based on the EleutherAI Pythia model family “and fine-tuned exclusively on a new, high-quality human-generated instruction following dataset, crowdsourced among Databricks employees”. The company has open-sourced Dolly 2.0 in its entirety, including the training code, dataset and model weights for commercial use, enabling any organization to create, own, and customize powerful LLMs without paying for API access or sharing data with third parties.

Of course, we cannot ignore Hugging Face’s BigScience Large Open-science Open-access Multilingual Language Model (BLOOM) that has 176 billion parameters and is able to generate text in 46 natural languages and 13 programming languages. Researchers can download, run and study BLOOM to investigate the performance and behaviour of recently-developed LLMs. The open-source LLM march has only begun.

2. Is Generative AI really smart?

The power of LLMs, as I have pointed out often in earlier newsletters too, stems from the use of transformer neural networks that are able to read many words (sentences and paragraphs, too) simultaneously, figure out how they are related, and predict the following word. LLMs such as GPT and chatbots like ChatGPT are trained on billions of words from sources like the internet, books, and sources, including Common Crawl and Wikipedia, which makes them more “knowledgeable but not necessarily more intelligent” than most humans since they may be able to connect the dots but not necessarily understand what they spew out. This implies that while LLMs such as GPT-3 and models like ChatGPT may outperform humans at some tasks, they may not comprehend what they read or write as we humans do. Moreover, these models use human supervisors to make them more sensible and less toxic.

Picture courtesy of Livemint

A new paper by lead author Rylan Schaeffer, a second-year graduate student in computer science at Stanford University, only confirms this line of thinking. It reads: “With bigger models, you get better performance,” he says, “but we don’t have evidence to suggest that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” You can read the paper titled ‘Are Emergent Abilities of Large Language Models a Mirage?’ here. The researchers conclude that “we find strong supporting evidence that emergent abilities may not be a fundamental property of scaling AI models”.

That said, the developments in the field of AI (and Generative AI) are too rapid for anyone to stick to any one point of view, so all I can say for now is let’s hold our horses till we get more data from the opaque LLMs of OpenAI and Google.

3. Dark side of Generative AI

Alarm bells started ringing louder when Geoffery Hinton, one of the so-called godfathers of AI, uit Google on 1 May. His reason, according to The New York Times, was that “...he can freely speak out about the risks of AI”. “A part of him, he said, now regrets his life’s work”. Hinton, who obviously deeply understands the technology, said in the above-cited NYT article, “It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things”.

Picture courtesy of Livemint

Hinton’s immediate concern, according to the article, is that “the internet will be flooded with false photos, videos and text, and the average person will “not be able to know what is true anymore.” He is also worried that AI technologies will, in time, upend the job market.” The fear is that Generative AI is only getting smarter with each passing day, and researchers are unable to understand the ‘How’ of it. Simply put, since large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4 are self-supervised or unsupervised, researchers cannot understand how they train themselves and arrive at their conclusions (hence, the term ‘black box’). Further, Tencent, for instance, has reportedly launched a ‘Deepfakes-as-a-Service’ for $145 -- it needs just three minutes of live-action video and 100 spoken sentences to create a high-definition digital human.

You can read more about this here and here.

4. Generative AI for enterprises

While AI was discussed by 17% of CEOs in the January-March quarter of this calendar year, spurred by the release of ChatGPT and the discussions around its potential use cases, Generative AI was specifically discussed by 2.7% of all earnings calls, and conversational AI was mentioned in 0.5% of all earnings calls--up from zero mentions in the October-December quarter, according to the latest ‘What CEOs talked about’ report by IoT Analytics--a Germany-based markets insight and strategic business intelligence provider.

Generative AI multi-modal models and tools, including ChatGPT, Dall-E, Mid-Journey, Stable Diffusion, Bing, Bard, and LLaMA, are making waves not only due to their ability to write blogs, and reviews, create images, make videos, and generate software code, but also because they can aid in speeding up new drug discovery, create entirely new materials, and generate synthetic data too.

That said, once companies adopt Generative AI models, they will need to continuously monitor, re-train, and fine-tune to ensure the models continue to produce accurate output and stay up-to-date. Further, integrating the application programming interfaces (APIs) with the business workflows of other units has its own set of challenges for companies. Nevertheless, given the frenetic pace at which these models are training themselves, and pending the introduction of ChatGPT Business, business executives would benefit from being proactive.

5. Global guardrails are falling into place

The European Union’s AI Act, for instance, now proposes that AI tools should be classified according to their perceived risk level -- from minimal to limited, high, and unacceptable.

The US-based National Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee (NAIAC), among other things, states: “We understand that trustworthy AI is not possible without public trust, and public trust cannot be attained without clear mechanisms for its transparency, accountability, mitigation of harms, and redress. The Administration should require an approach that protects against these risks while allowing the benefits of values-based AI services to accrue to the public.”

India, too, needs to act fast to avoid the unbridled AI horse from running amok. You can read more about this in my earlier newsletter: ‘We must rein in the precocious Generative AI children. But how?'


What is Alcubierre Drive?

  • Tesla’s latest electric car
  • A highway in the US
  • The urge to go on a long drive
  • A concept that allows us to travel faster than light
  • The world’s most scenic drive

(The correct answer is given below)



“You cannot stop it”

Jurgen Schmidhuber believes AI will progress to the point where it surpasses human intelligence and will pay no attention to people.


10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2023: Gartner

1: Value Optimization

Most data and analytics (D&A) leaders struggle to articulate the value they deliver for the organization in business terms. Value optimization from an organization’s data, analytics and AI portfolio requires an integrated set of value-management competencies, including value storytelling, value stream analysis, ranking and prioritizing investments, and measuring business outcomes to ensure expected value is realized.

2: Managing AI Risk

Managing AI risks is not only about being compliant with regulations. Effective AI governance and responsible AI practices are also critical to building trust among stakeholders and catalyzing AI adoption and use.

3: Observability

Observability is a characteristic that allows the D&A system’s behaviour to be understood and allows questions about their behaviour to be answered.

4: Data Sharing Is Essential

Organizations can create “data as a product” and share both internally (between or among departments or across subsidiaries) and externally (between or among parties outside the ownership and control of your organization).

5: D&A Sustainability

It is not enough for D&A leaders to provide analysis and insights for enterprise ESG (environmental, social, and governance) projects. D&A leaders must also try to optimize their own processes for sustainability improvement.

6: Practical Data Fabric

Data fabric is a data management design pattern that generates alerts and recommendations for both humans and systems.

7: Emergent AI

ChatGPT and generative AI are at the vanguard of the emerging AI trend. AI will change how most companies operate in terms of scalability, versatility and adaptability. The next wave of AI will enable organizations to apply AI in situations that are not feasible today, making AI ever more pervasive and valuable.

8: Converged and Composable Ecosystems

Converged D&A ecosystems design and deploy the D&A platform to operate and function cohesively through seamless integrations, governance, and technical interoperability.

9: Consumers Become Creators

Organizations can expand the adoption and impact of analytics by giving content consumers easy-to-use automated and embedded insights and conversational experiences they need to become content creators.

10: Humans Remain the Key Decision Makers

Not every decision can or should be automated. D&A groups are explicitly addressing decision support and the human role in automated and augmented decision-making.

About 70% drop in AI startups: Data Hub

Yet 750,000 people are looking to start their own AI product company in 2023.

Three times as many “small” AI products were launched in Q1 2023 than in Q4 2022.

DIY AI: In Q1 2022, 668 AI startups were created worldwide. However, during the same time period in 2023, there was a 69% decline, with only 269 new AI startups created.

AI funding plummets: In 2023, there will be 49% fewer investor-backed startups.

Microsoft’s investment of 10 billion in OpenAI has been worth over $200 billion to the company, having seen its shares rise by 16% as of 24 April 2023.

The answer to the Quiz:

Artist’s concept of a spacecraft using an Alcubierre Warp Drive. Credit: NASA

In Physics, the Alcubierre Warp Drive is a speculative solution of the Einstein field equations, specifically how space, time and energy interact. A Mexican physicist, Miguel Alcubierre, proposed a method in 1994 to stretch the fabric of space-time to allow faster-than-light (FTL) travel.

Hope you folks have a great weekend, and your feedback will be much appreciated.

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