While recent language models have the ability to take long contexts as input, relatively little is known about how well they use longer context. We analyze language model performance on two tasks that require identifying relevant information within their input contexts: multi-document question answering and key-value retrieval. We find that performance is often highest when relevant information occurs at the beginning or end of the input context, and significantly degrades when models must access relevant information in the middle of long contexts. Furthermore, performance substantially decreases as the input context grows longer, even for explicitly long-context models. Our analysis provides a better understanding of how language models use their input context and provides new evaluation protocols for future long-context models.
Neural captioners are typically trained to mimic human-generated references without optimizing for any specific communication goal, leading to problems such as the generation of vague captions. In this paper, we show that fine-tuning an out-of-the-box neural captioner with a self-supervised discriminative communication objective helps to recover a plain, visually descriptive language that is more informative about image contents. Given a target image, the system must learn to produce a description that enables an out-of-the-box text-conditioned image retriever to identify such image among a set of candidates. We experiment with the popular ClipCap captioner, also replicating the main results with BLIP. In terms of similarity to ground-truth human descriptions, the captions emerging from discriminative finetuning lag slightly behind those generated by the non-finetuned model, when the latter is trained and tested on the same caption dataset. However, when the model is used without further tuning to generate captions for out-of-domain datasets, our discriminatively-finetuned captioner generates descriptions that resemble human references more than those produced by the same captioner without finetuning. We further show that, on the Conceptual Captions dataset, discriminatively finetuned captions are more helpful than either vanilla ClipCap captions or ground-truth captions for human annotators tasked with an image discrimination task.
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.
Knowledge-intensive language tasks require NLP systems to both provide the correct answer and retrieve supporting evidence for it in a given corpus. Autoregressive language models are emerging as the de-facto standard for generating answers, with newer and more powerful systems emerging at an astonishing pace. In this paper we argue that all this (and future) progress can be directly applied to the retrieval problem with minimal intervention to the models' architecture. Previous work has explored ways to partition the search space into hierarchical structures and retrieve documents by autoregressively generating their unique identifier. In this work we propose an alternative that doesn't force any structure in the search space: using all ngrams in a passage as its possible identifiers. This setup allows us to use an autoregressive model to generate and score distinctive ngrams, that are then mapped to full passages through an efficient data structure. Empirically, we show this not only outperforms prior autoregressive approaches but also leads to an average improvement of at least 10 points over more established retrieval solutions for passage-level retrieval on the KILT benchmark, establishing new state-of-the-art downstream performance on some datasets, while using a considerably lighter memory footprint than competing systems. Code and pre-trained models at https://github.com/facebookresearch/SEAL.