Simon Willison’s Weblog

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584 items tagged “ai”

2024

In their rush to cram in “AI” “features”, it seems to me that many companies don’t actually understand why people use their products. [...] Trust is a precious commodity. It takes a long time to build trust. It takes a short time to destroy it.

Jeremy Keith # 29th May 2024, 11:06 am

Training is not the same as chatting: ChatGPT and other LLMs don’t remember everything you say

I’m beginning to suspect that one of the most common misconceptions about LLMs such as ChatGPT involves how “training” works.

[... 1542 words]

What We Learned from a Year of Building with LLMs (Part I). Accumulated wisdom from six experienced LLM hackers. Lots of useful tips in here. On providing examples in a prompt:

If n is too low, the model may over-anchor on those specific examples, hurting its ability to generalize. As a rule of thumb, aim for n ≥ 5. Don’t be afraid to go as high as a few dozen.

There's a recommendation not to overlook keyword search when implementing RAG - tricks with embeddings can miss results for things like names or acronyms, and keyword search is much easier to debug.

Plus this tip on using the LLM-as-judge pattern for implementing automated evals:

Instead of asking the LLM to score a single output on a Likert scale, present it with two options and ask it to select the better one. This tends to lead to more stable results.

# 29th May 2024, 8:59 am

Reproducing GPT-2 (124M) in llm.c in 90 minutes for $20 (via) GPT-2 124M was the smallest model in the GPT-2 series released by OpenAI back in 2019. Andrej Karpathy's llm.c is an evolving 4,000 line C/CUDA implementation which can now train a GPT-2 model from scratch in 90 minutes against a 8X A100 80GB GPU server. This post walks through exactly how to run the training, using 10 billion tokens of FineWeb.

Andrej notes that this isn't actually that far off being able to train a GPT-3:

Keep in mind that here we trained for 10B tokens, while GPT-3 models were all trained for 300B tokens. [...] GPT-3 actually didn't change too much at all about the model (context size 1024 -> 2048, I think that's it?).

Estimated cost for a GPT-3 ADA (350M parameters)? About $2,000. # 28th May 2024, 7:47 pm

Why Google’s AI might recommend you mix glue into your pizza. I got “distrust and verify” as advice on using LLMs into this Washington Post piece by Shira Ovide. # 25th May 2024, 6:29 am

Golden Gate Claude. This is absurdly fun and weird. Anthropic's recent LLM interpretability research gave them the ability to locate features within the opaque blob of their Sonnet model and boost the weight of those features during inference.

For a limited time only they're serving a "Golden Gate Claude" model which has the feature for the Golden Gate Bridge boosted. No matter what question you ask it the Golden Gate Bridge is likely to be involved in the answer in some way. Click the little bridge icon in the Claude UI to give it a go.

I asked for names for a pet pelican and the first one it offered was this:

Golden Gate - This iconic bridge name would be a fitting moniker for the pelican with its striking orange color and beautiful suspension cables.

And from a recipe for chocolate covered pretzels:

Gently wipe any fog away and pour the warm chocolate mixture over the bridge/brick combination. Allow to air dry, and the bridge will remain accessible for pedestrians to walk along it.

UPDATE: I think the experimental model is no longer available, approximately 24 hours after release. We'll miss you, Golden Gate Claude. # 24th May 2024, 8:17 am

Nilay Patel reports a hallucinated ChatGPT summary of his own article (via) Here's a ChatGPT bug that's a new twist on the old issue where it would hallucinate the contents of a web page based on the URL.

The Verge editor Nilay Patel asked for a summary of one of his own articles, pasting in the URL.

ChatGPT 4o replied with an entirely invented summary full of hallucinated details.

It turns out The Verge blocks ChatGPT's browse mode from accessing their site in their robots.txt:

User-agent: ChatGPT-User
Disallow: /

Clearly ChatGPT should reply that it is unable to access the provided URL, rather than inventing a response that guesses at the contents! # 24th May 2024, 6:38 am

I just left Google last month. The “AI Projects” I was working on were poorly motivated and driven by this panic that as long as it had “AI” in it, it would be great. This myopia is NOT something driven by a user need. It is a stone cold panic that they are getting left behind.

The vision is that there will be a Tony Stark like Jarvis assistant in your phone that locks you into their ecosystem so hard that you’ll never leave. That vision is pure catnip. The fear is that they can’t afford to let someone else get there first.

Scott Jenson # 24th May 2024, 6:33 am

Some goofy results from ‘AI Overviews’ in Google Search. John Gruber collects two of the best examples of Google’s new AI overviews going horribly wrong.

Gullibility is a fundamental trait of all LLMs, and Google’s new feature apparently doesn’t know not to parrot ideas it picked up from articles in the Onion, or jokes from Reddit.

I’ve heard that LLM providers internally talk about “screenshot attacks”—bugs where the biggest risk is that someone will take an embarrassing screenshot.

In Google search’s case this class of bug feels like a significant reputational threat. # 24th May 2024, 5:33 am

A Grand Unified Theory of the AI Hype Cycle. Glyph outlines the pattern of every AI hype cycle since the 1960s: a new, novel mechanism is discovered and named. People get excited, and non-practitioners start hyping it as the path to true “AI”. It eventually becomes apparent that this is not the case, even while practitioners quietly incorporate this new technology into useful applications while downplaying the “AI” branding. A new mechanism is discovered and the cycle repeats. # 24th May 2024, 12:26 am

What is prompt optimization? (via) Delightfully clear explanation of a simple automated prompt optimization strategy from Jason Liu. Gather a selection of examples and build an evaluation function to return a numeric score (the hard bit). Then try different shuffled subsets of those examples in your prompt and look for the example collection that provides the highest averaged score. # 22nd May 2024, 4:02 pm

Mastering LLMs: A Conference For Developers & Data Scientists (via) I’m speaking at this 5-week (maybe soon 6-week) long online conference about LLMs, presenting about “LLMs on the command line”.

Other speakers include Jeremy Howard, Sophia Yang from Mistral, Wing Lian of Axolotl, Jason Liu of Instructor, Paige Bailey from Google, my former co-worker John Berryman and a growing number of fascinating LLM practitioners.

It’s been fun watching this grow from a short course on fine-tuning LLMs to a full-blown multi-week conference over the past few days! # 22nd May 2024, 3:34 am

New Phi-3 models: small, medium and vision. I couldn't find a good official announcement post to link to about these three newly released models, but this post on LocalLLaMA on Reddit has them in one place: Phi-3 small (7B), Phi-3 medium (14B) and Phi-3 vision (4.2B) (the previously released model was Phi-3 mini - 3.8B).

You can try out the vision model directly here, no login required. It didn't do a great job with my first test image though, hallucinating the text.

As with Mini these are all released under an MIT license.

UPDATE: Here's a page from the newly published Phi-3 Cookbook describing the models in the family. # 21st May 2024, 8:04 pm

Scaling Monosemanticity: Extracting Interpretable Features from Claude 3 Sonnet (via) Big advances in the field of LLM interpretability from Anthropic, who managed to extract millions of understandable features from their production Claude 3 Sonnet model (the mid-point between the inexpensive Haiku and the GPT-4-class Opus).

Some delightful snippets in here such as this one:

We also find a variety of features related to sycophancy, such as an empathy / “yeah, me too” feature 34M/19922975, a sycophantic praise feature 1M/847723, and a sarcastic praise feature 34M/19415708.

# 21st May 2024, 6:25 pm

Last September, I received an offer from Sam Altman, who wanted to hire me to voice the current ChatGPT 4.0 system. He told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people. After much consideration and for personal reasons, I declined the offer.

Scarlett Johansson # 20th May 2024, 11:16 pm

Spam, junk … slop? The latest wave of AI behind the ‘zombie internet’. I'm quoted in this piece in the Guardian about slop:

I think having a name for this is really important, because it gives people a concise way to talk about the problem.

Before the term ‘spam’ entered general use it wasn’t necessarily clear to everyone that unwanted marketing messages were a bad way to behave. I’m hoping ‘slop’ has the same impact – it can make it clear to people that generating and publishing unreviewed AI-generated content is bad behaviour.

# 19th May 2024, 7:54 pm

A Plea for Sober AI. Great piece by Drew Breunig: “Imagine having products THIS GOOD and still over-selling them.” # 19th May 2024, 12:47 am

AI counter app from my PyCon US keynote. In my keynote at PyCon US this morning I ran a counter at the top of my screen that automatically incremented every time I said the words "AI" or "artificial intelligence", using vosk, pyaudio and Tkinter. I wrote it in a few minutes with the help of GPT-4o - here's the code I ran as a GitHub repository.

I'll publish full detailed notes from my talk once the video is available on YouTube. # 18th May 2024, 3:49 pm

Understand errors and warnings better with Gemini (via) As part of Google's Gemini-in-everything strategy, Chrome DevTools now includes an opt-in feature for passing error messages in the JavaScript console to Gemini for an explanation, via a lightbulb icon.

Amusingly, this documentation page includes a warning about prompt injection:

Many of LLM applications are susceptible to a form of abuse known as prompt injection. This feature is no different. It is possible to trick the LLM into accepting instructions that are not intended by the developers.

They include a screenshot of a harmless example, but I'd be interested in hearing if anyone has a theoretical attack that could actually cause real damage here. # 17th May 2024, 10:10 pm

I have seen the extremely restrictive off-boarding agreement that contains nondisclosure and non-disparagement provisions former OpenAI employees are subject to. It forbids them, for the rest of their lives, from criticizing their former employer. Even acknowledging that the NDA exists is a violation of it.

If a departing employee declines to sign the document, or if they violate it, they can lose all vested equity they earned during their time at the company, which is likely worth millions of dollars.

Kelsey Piper # 17th May 2024, 7:11 pm

But where the company once limited itself to gathering low-hanging fruit along the lines of “what time is the super bowl,” on Tuesday executives showcased generative AI tools that will someday plan an entire anniversary dinner, or cross-country-move, or trip abroad. A quarter-century into its existence, a company that once proudly served as an entry point to a web that it nourished with traffic and advertising revenue has begun to abstract that all away into an input for its large language models.

Casey Newton # 15th May 2024, 10:23 pm

PaliGemma model README (via) One of the more over-looked announcements from Google I/O yesterday was PaliGemma, an openly licensed VLM (Vision Language Model) in the Gemma family of models.

The model accepts an image and a text prompt. It outputs text, but that text can include special tokens representing regions on the image. This means it can return both bounding boxes and fuzzier segment outlines of detected objects, behavior that can be triggered using a prompt such as "segment puffins".

You can try it out on Hugging Face.

It's a 3B model, making it feasible to run on consumer hardware. # 15th May 2024, 9:16 pm

ChatGPT in “4o” mode is not running the new features yet

Monday’s OpenAI announcement of their new GPT-4o model included some intriguing new features:

[... 865 words]

If we want LLMs to be less hype and more of a building block for creating useful everyday tools for people, AI companies’ shift away from scaling and AGI dreams to acting like regular product companies that focus on cost and customer value proposition is a welcome development.

Arvind Narayanan # 15th May 2024, 4:25 pm

But unlike the phone system, we can’t separate an LLM’s data from its commands. One of the enormously powerful features of an LLM is that the data affects the code. We want the system to modify its operation when it gets new training data. We want it to change the way it works based on the commands we give it. The fact that LLMs self-modify based on their input data is a feature, not a bug. And it’s the very thing that enables prompt injection.

Bruce Schneier # 15th May 2024, 1:34 pm

Context caching for Google Gemini (via) Another new Gemini feature announced today. Long context models enable answering questions against large chunks of text, but the price of those long prompts can be prohibitive—$3.50/million for Gemini Pro 1.5 up to 128,000 tokens and $7/million beyond that.

Context caching offers a price optimization, where the long prefix prompt can be reused between requests, halving the cost per prompt but at an additional cost of $4.50 / 1 million tokens per hour to keep that context cache warm.

Given that hourly extra charge this isn’t a default optimization for all cases, but certain high traffic applications might be able to save quite a bit on their longer prompt systems.

It will be interesting to see if other vendors such as OpenAI and Anthropic offer a similar optimization in the future. # 14th May 2024, 8:42 pm

llm-gemini 0.1a4. A new release of my llm-gemini plugin adding support for the Gemini 1.5 Flash model that was revealed this morning at Google I/O.

I'm excited about this new model because of its low price. Flash is $0.35 per 1 million tokens for prompts up to 128K token and $0.70 per 1 million tokens for longer prompts - up to a million tokens now and potentially two million at some point in the future. That's 1/10th of the price of Gemini Pro 1.5, cheaper than GPT 3.5 ($0.50/million) and only a little more expensive than Claude 3 Haiku ($0.25/million). # 14th May 2024, 8:32 pm

How developers are using Gemini 1.5 Pro’s 1 million token context window. I got to be a talking head for a few seconds in an intro video for today's Google I/O keynote, talking about how I used Gemini Pro 1.5 to index my bookshelf (and with a cameo from my squirrel nutcracker). I'm at 1m25s.

(Or at 10m6s in the full video of the keynote) # 14th May 2024, 8:27 pm

Why your voice assistant might be sexist (via) Given OpenAI's demo yesterday of a vocal chat assistant with a flirty, giggly female voice - and the new ability to be interrupted! - it's worth revisiting this piece by Chris Baraniuk from June 2022 about gender dynamics in voice assistants. Includes a link to this example of a synthesized non-binary voice. # 14th May 2024, 4:16 pm

LLM 0.14, with support for GPT-4o. It's been a while since the last LLM release. This one adds support for OpenAI's new model:

llm -m gpt-4o "fascinate me"

Also a new llm logs -r (or --response) option for getting back just the response from your last prompt, without wrapping it in Markdown that includes the prompt.

Plus nine new plugins since 0.13! # 13th May 2024, 9 pm