We present Sparrow, an information-seeking dialogue agent trained to be more helpful, correct, and harmless compared to prompted language model baselines. We use reinforcement learning from human feedback to train our models with two new additions to help human raters judge agent behaviour. First, to make our agent more helpful and harmless, we break down the requirements for good dialogue into natural language rules the agent should follow, and ask raters about each rule separately. We demonstrate that this breakdown enables us to collect more targeted human judgements of agent behaviour and allows for more efficient rule-conditional reward models. Second, our agent provides evidence from sources supporting factual claims when collecting preference judgements over model statements. For factual questions, evidence provided by Sparrow supports the sampled response 78% of the time. Sparrow is preferred more often than baselines while being more resilient to adversarial probing by humans, violating our rules only 8% of the time when probed. Finally, we conduct extensive analyses showing that though our model learns to follow our rules it can exhibit distributional biases.
Large language models produce human-like text that drive a growing number of applications. However, recent literature and, increasingly, real world observations, have demonstrated that these models can generate language that is toxic, biased, untruthful or otherwise harmful. Though work to evaluate language model harms is under way, translating foresight about which harms may arise into rigorous benchmarks is not straightforward. To facilitate this translation, we outline six ways of characterizing harmful text which merit explicit consideration when designing new benchmarks. We then use these characteristics as a lens to identify trends and gaps in existing benchmarks. Finally, we apply them in a case study of the Perspective API, a toxicity classifier that is widely used in harm benchmarks. Our characteristics provide one piece of the bridge that translates between foresight and effective evaluation.
Language modelling provides a step towards intelligent communication systems by harnessing large repositories of written human knowledge to better predict and understand the world. In this paper, we present an analysis of Transformer-based language model performance across a wide range of model scales -- from models with tens of millions of parameters up to a 280 billion parameter model called Gopher. These models are evaluated on 152 diverse tasks, achieving state-of-the-art performance across the majority. Gains from scale are largest in areas such as reading comprehension, fact-checking, and the identification of toxic language, but logical and mathematical reasoning see less benefit. We provide a holistic analysis of the training dataset and model's behaviour, covering the intersection of model scale with bias and toxicity. Finally we discuss the application of language models to AI safety and the mitigation of downstream harms.
This paper aims to help structure the risk landscape associated with large-scale Language Models (LMs). In order to foster advances in responsible innovation, an in-depth understanding of the potential risks posed by these models is needed. A wide range of established and anticipated risks are analysed in detail, drawing on multidisciplinary expertise and literature from computer science, linguistics, and social sciences. We outline six specific risk areas: I. Discrimination, Exclusion and Toxicity, II. Information Hazards, III. Misinformation Harms, V. Malicious Uses, V. Human-Computer Interaction Harms, VI. Automation, Access, and Environmental Harms. The first area concerns the perpetuation of stereotypes, unfair discrimination, exclusionary norms, toxic language, and lower performance by social group for LMs. The second focuses on risks from private data leaks or LMs correctly inferring sensitive information. The third addresses risks arising from poor, false or misleading information including in sensitive domains, and knock-on risks such as the erosion of trust in shared information. The fourth considers risks from actors who try to use LMs to cause harm. The fifth focuses on risks specific to LLMs used to underpin conversational agents that interact with human users, including unsafe use, manipulation or deception. The sixth discusses the risk of environmental harm, job automation, and other challenges that may have a disparate effect on different social groups or communities. In total, we review 21 risks in-depth. We discuss the points of origin of different risks and point to potential mitigation approaches. Lastly, we discuss organisational responsibilities in implementing mitigations, and the role of collaboration and participation. We highlight directions for further research, particularly on expanding the toolkit for assessing and evaluating the outlined risks in LMs.
Large language models (LM) generate remarkably fluent text and can be efficiently adapted across NLP tasks. Measuring and guaranteeing the quality of generated text in terms of safety is imperative for deploying LMs in the real world; to this end, prior work often relies on automatic evaluation of LM toxicity. We critically discuss this approach, evaluate several toxicity mitigation strategies with respect to both automatic and human evaluation, and analyze consequences of toxicity mitigation in terms of model bias and LM quality. We demonstrate that while basic intervention strategies can effectively optimize previously established automatic metrics on the RealToxicityPrompts dataset, this comes at the cost of reduced LM coverage for both texts about, and dialects of, marginalized groups. Additionally, we find that human raters often disagree with high automatic toxicity scores after strong toxicity reduction interventions -- highlighting further the nuances involved in careful evaluation of LM toxicity.
Recently multimodal transformer models have gained popularity because their performance on language and vision tasks suggest they learn rich visual-linguistic representations. Focusing on zero-shot image retrieval tasks, we study three important factors which can impact the quality of learned representations: pretraining data, the attention mechanism, and loss functions. By pretraining models on six datasets, we observe that dataset noise and language similarity to our downstream task are important indicators of model performance. Through architectural analysis, we learn that models with a multimodal attention mechanism can outperform deeper models with modality specific attention mechanisms. Finally, we show that successful contrastive losses used in the self-supervised learning literature do not yield similar performance gains when used in multimodal transformers