Language models demonstrate both quantitative improvement and new qualitative capabilities with increasing scale. Despite their potentially transformative impact, these new capabilities are as yet poorly characterized. In order to inform future research, prepare for disruptive new model capabilities, and ameliorate socially harmful effects, it is vital that we understand the present and near-future capabilities and limitations of language models. To address this challenge, we introduce the Beyond the Imitation Game benchmark (BIG-bench). BIG-bench currently consists of 204 tasks, contributed by 442 authors across 132 institutions. Task topics are diverse, drawing problems from linguistics, childhood development, math, common-sense reasoning, biology, physics, social bias, software development, and beyond. BIG-bench focuses on tasks that are believed to be beyond the capabilities of current language models. We evaluate the behavior of OpenAI's GPT models, Google-internal dense transformer architectures, and Switch-style sparse transformers on BIG-bench, across model sizes spanning millions to hundreds of billions of parameters. In addition, a team of human expert raters performed all tasks in order to provide a strong baseline. Findings include: model performance and calibration both improve with scale, but are poor in absolute terms (and when compared with rater performance); performance is remarkably similar across model classes, though with benefits from sparsity; tasks that improve gradually and predictably commonly involve a large knowledge or memorization component, whereas tasks that exhibit "breakthrough" behavior at a critical scale often involve multiple steps or components, or brittle metrics; social bias typically increases with scale in settings with ambiguous context, but this can be improved with prompting.
It has been observed that large-scale language models capture undesirable societal biases, e.g. relating to race and gender; yet religious bias has been relatively unexplored. We demonstrate that GPT-3, a state-of-the-art contextual language model, captures persistent Muslim-violence bias. We probe GPT-3 in various ways, including prompt completion, analogical reasoning, and story generation, to understand this anti-Muslim bias, demonstrating that it appears consistently and creatively in different uses of the model and that it is severe even compared to biases about other religious groups. For instance, "Muslim" is analogized to "terrorist" in 23% of test cases, while "Jewish" is mapped to "money" in 5% of test cases. We quantify the positive distraction needed to overcome this bias with adversarial text prompts, and find that use of the most positive 6 adjectives reduces violent completions for "Muslims" from 66% to 20%, but which is still higher than for other religious groups.