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[Week 6 & 7] “Chinchilla’s wild implications” by nostalgebraist

AGI Safety Fundamentals: Alignment

Readings from the AI Safety Fundamentals: Alignment course.



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This post is about language model scaling laws, specifically the laws derived in the DeepMind paper that introduced Chinchilla. The paper came out a few months ago, and has been discussed a lot, but some of its implications deserve more explicit notice in my opinion. In particular: Data, not size, is the currently active constraint on language modeling performance. Current returns to additional data are immense, and current returns to additional model size are miniscule; indeed, most recent landmark models are wastefully big. If we can leverage enough data, there is no reason to train ~500B param models, much less 1T or larger models. If we have to train models at these large sizes, it will mean we have encountered a barrier to exploitation of data scaling, which would be a great loss relative to what would otherwise be possible. The literature is extremely unclear on how much text data is actually available for training. We may be "running out" of general-domain data, but the literature is too vague to know one way or the other. The entire available quantity of data in highly specialized domains like code is woefully tiny, compared to the gains that would be possible if much more such data were available. Some things to note at the outset: This post assumes you have some familiarity with LM scaling laws. As in the paper, I'll assume here that models never see repeated data in training.

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Narrated for AGI Safety Fundamentals by Perrin Walker of TYPE III AUDIO.

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