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.
Despite the progress made in recent years in addressing natural language understanding (NLU) challenges, the majority of this progress remains to be concentrated on resource-rich languages like English. This work focuses on Persian language, one of the widely spoken languages in the world, and yet there are few NLU datasets available for this rich language. The availability of high-quality evaluation datasets is a necessity for reliable assessment of the progress on different NLU tasks and domains. We introduce ParsiNLU, the first benchmark in Persian language that includes a range of high-level tasks -- Reading Comprehension, Textual Entailment, etc. These datasets are collected in a multitude of ways, often involving manual annotations by native speakers. This results in over 14.5$k$ new instances across 6 distinct NLU tasks. Besides, we present the first results on state-of-the-art monolingual and multi-lingual pre-trained language-models on this benchmark and compare them with human performance, which provides valuable insights into our ability to tackle natural language understanding challenges in Persian. We hope ParsiNLU fosters further research and advances in Persian language understanding.