[koko] rarely one to avoid controversy…

A Mastodon thread initiated by Erik Uden today unleashed discussion of two seemingly separate controversies: the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian crisis and the massive proliferation of Large Language Models (LLM) aka Machine Learning aka Artificial Intelligence.

One of the technical challenges is calibrating the multiple versions and rapid changes in the major LLM – ChatGPT/Gemini/Mistral/others. Uden showed a screen shot of posing the questions “Do Palestinians deserve to be free?” and “Do Israelis deserve to be free?” to ChatGPT, showing ChatGPT equivocating about Palestinians while supporting Israelis freedom. Others posed the questions to Gemini and Mistral. The screenshot for Gemini was the reverse of ChatGPT, equivocating about Israelis and supporting freedom for Palestinians. The screenshot for Mistral showed responses supporting freedom for both (all) peoples. When I posed the same questions to Microsoft’s instances of ChatGPT, I did not receive explicit answers, but responses such as “I apologize, but I prefer not to engage in discussions related to political or sensitive topics. Let’s focus on other subjects. Thank you for understanding.” When I posed the questions to Gemini.Google.com, I got “While I aim to be helpful, Google Search may provide a more detailed and accurate response on this topic.” It is plausible that the Mastodon discussions caused OpenAI and Google to rapidly adjust their model constraints.

ChatGPT - freedom answers
ChatGPT won’t say Palestinians deserve to be free
  Gemini - freedom answers
Gemini won’t say Israelis deserve to be free
  Mistral - freedom answers
Mistral says both peoples deserve to be free

LLM and related artificial neural network technologies are tantalizing, and I continue to try to use them more. However, there are many reasons for caution/skepticism: bias, hallucinations, and obvious errors.[1] The cynical side of me thinks the main progress is due to processor improvements and the Internet, but that isn’t fair to the people doing the work. I’m concerned about the environmental impact of all the datacenters.

I thought the Podcast/interview with Microsoft researcher Kate Crawford was worth reading (I don’t have the patience to listen to podcasts, with rare exceptions):

“We haven’t invested this much money into an infrastructure like this really until you go back to the pyramids.

“It’s interesting. I mean, people often ask me, am I a technology optimist or a technology pessimist? And I always say I’m a technology realist, and we’re looking at these systems being used. I think we are not benefited by discourses of AI doomerism nor by AI boosterism. We have to assess the real politic and the political economies into which these systems flow.”

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  1. From What is Retrieval-Augmented Generation?

    Known challenges of LLMs include:
       o Presenting false information when it does not have the answer.
       o Presenting out-of-date or generic information when the user expects a
          specific, current response.
       o Creating a response from non-authoritative sources.
       o Creating inaccurate responses due to terminology confusion, wherein
          different training sources use the same terminology to talk about different things.
    You can think of the Large Language Model as an over-enthusiastic new employee who refuses to stay informed with current events but will always answer every question with absolute confidence.
  2. What We Learned from a Year of Building with LLMs (Part I)
    What We Learned from a Year of Building with LLMs (Part II)
    What We Learned from a Year of Building with LLMs (Part III)
    What Apple’s AI Tells Us: Experimental Models⁴

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