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July 15, 2024

Why Do AI

Artificial Intelligence Insights and News

Unleashing Magic: The Mesmerizing Journey of AI Simulating Human Language

4 min read
Homeless man, weathered face, wise knowing eyes

Okay, let’s imagine that you want to teach a robot to understand and use human language. Now, how would you do that? It’s not as simple as telling the robot, “Hey, this is how you speak English,” right? Language is complicated. It’s filled with rules, exceptions to those rules, and various ways to express ideas based on context.

This is where large language models (LLMs) come in. To simplify, think of an LLM as a digital teacher for the robot. It has studied tons and tons of text (millions of books, articles, and websites) to learn how humans use language. It analyzes sentences, words, and phrases, spotting patterns in the way we use language. Then, when you ask it something, it uses all that information to generate a response.

Alright, now let’s dive a little deeper. What’s actually going on under the hood when an LLM learns and generates language? The first concept you need to understand is machine learning. Imagine you’re learning to identify dogs. You start by looking at many pictures of dogs. After some time, you’ll start to recognize common characteristics, like four legs, a tail, and a specific range of sizes and shapes.

In machine learning, computers do something similar. They’re shown a bunch of “examples” and learn to recognize patterns. For language models, these “examples” are text data. The computer sifts through sentences, learning to predict what word comes next. For example, given the sentence “I have a pet _“, the model might learn to fill the blank with “cat” or “dog”, because those are common pets in the text it’s seen.

An LLM does this on a massive scale, learning from billions of sentences. It uses a special type of machine learning algorithm called a neural network, designed to mimic the human brain. Just as our brains have billions of neurons, these networks have ‘nodes’ that work together to process information.

Now, let’s talk about something called ‘vectors’. Picture a vector as a point in space. For instance, imagine we’re dealing with a simple, two-dimensional world. You could locate an object in this world with two numbers: one number tells you how far to the left or right the object is, and the other number tells you how far up or down it is. These two numbers, together, form a vector.

In a language model, every word is represented by a vector, but instead of a simple 2D world, we’re dealing with a world with thousands of dimensions! Each dimension could represent a different characteristic of the word. For example, one dimension might measure how much a word is related to animals. ‘Dog’ would score high on this dimension, while ‘car’ would score low.

When the LLM learns from text, it adjusts these vectors so that words used similarly end up close to each other in this multi-dimensional space. So, ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ would be near each other, but ‘dog’ and ‘skyscraper’ would be far apart.

How does the LLM use these word vectors to generate responses? Let’s say you ask it, “What’s the weather like?” The model converts your question into vectors, processes them, and spits out new vectors that it then converts back into words to form a response.

As it processes your question, the model tries to guess the next word in the sequence. It takes into account the vectors of the words you’ve used, and their relationships to each other, to come up with the most probable next word. It does this word by word until it has a complete answer.

Now, here’s the catch: while LLMs are very powerful and can generate impressively human-like text, they’re not perfect. Sometimes they might say things that are inaccurate or nonsensical. Why? Because, unlike humans, LLMs don’t understand the world. They only know about patterns in the text they’ve been trained on. They can’t verify facts or draw on real-world experience like a human can. They’re more like parrots, repeating and recombining phrases they’ve seen before in ways that usually, but not always, make sense.

So, while LLMs are an amazing tool and a testament to our progress in technology, they’re not quite on par with human intelligence. Not yet, at least! The world of AI is constantly changing, and who knows where we’ll be a few years down the line?

This, in a nutshell, is how Large Language Models work. It’s a complex journey from text to learning, to vectors, and back to text again. But each step is an integral part of how these digital brains make sense of our human language.