AI is undergoing a paradigm shift with the rise of models (e.g., BERT, DALL-E, GPT-3) that are trained on broad data at scale and are adaptable to a wide range of downstream tasks. We call these models foundation models to underscore their critically central yet incomplete character. This report provides a thorough account of the opportunities and risks of foundation models, ranging from their capabilities (e.g., language, vision, robotics, reasoning, human interaction) and technical principles(e.g., model architectures, training procedures, data, systems, security, evaluation, theory) to their applications (e.g., law, healthcare, education) and societal impact (e.g., inequity, misuse, economic and environmental impact, legal and ethical considerations). Though foundation models are based on standard deep learning and transfer learning, their scale results in new emergent capabilities,and their effectiveness across so many tasks incentivizes homogenization. Homogenization provides powerful leverage but demands caution, as the defects of the foundation model are inherited by all the adapted models downstream. Despite the impending widespread deployment of foundation models, we currently lack a clear understanding of how they work, when they fail, and what they are even capable of due to their emergent properties. To tackle these questions, we believe much of the critical research on foundation models will require deep interdisciplinary collaboration commensurate with their fundamentally sociotechnical nature.
* Authored by the Center for Research on Foundation Models (CRFM) at
the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI)
For many of the 700 million illiterate people around the world, speech recognition technology could provide a bridge to valuable information and services. Yet, those most in need of this technology are often the most underserved by it. In many countries, illiterate people tend to speak only low-resource languages, for which the datasets necessary for speech technology development are scarce. In this paper, we investigate the effectiveness of unsupervised speech representation learning on noisy radio broadcasting archives, which are abundant even in low-resource languages. We make three core contributions. First, we release two datasets to the research community. The first, West African Radio Corpus, contains 142 hours of audio in more than 10 languages with a labeled validation subset. The second, West African Virtual Assistant Speech Recognition Corpus, consists of 10K labeled audio clips in four languages. Next, we share West African wav2vec, a speech encoder trained on the noisy radio corpus, and compare it with the baseline Facebook speech encoder trained on six times more data of higher quality. We show that West African wav2vec performs similarly to the baseline on a multilingual speech recognition task, and significantly outperforms the baseline on a West African language identification task. Finally, we share the first-ever speech recognition models for Maninka, Pular and Susu, languages spoken by a combined 10 million people in over seven countries, including six where the majority of the adult population is illiterate. Our contributions offer a path forward for ethical AI research to serve the needs of those most disadvantaged by the digital divide.