On the dangers of stochastic parrots: Can language models be too big?

There are few better ways of spending an hour than doing so listening to Professor Emily Bender, University of Waashington, taking about language models in a virtual presentation hosted by the Alan Turing Institute on 8 July 2021. The main topics in this excellent lecture (content, presentation and discussion) were

  • Are ever larger language models (LM) inevitable or necessary
  • What costs are associated with this research direction and what should we consider before pursing it?
  • Do the field of natural language processing or the public that it serves in fact need larger LMs?
  • If so, how can we pursue this research direction while mitigating its associated risks?
  • If not, what do we need instead?

Well worth a couple of cups (or glasses) of your favourite drink.

About Martin White
Martin White

Martin is an information scientist and the author of Making Search Work and Enterprise Search. He has been involved with optimising search applications since the mid-1970s and has worked on search projects in both Europe and North America. Since 2002 he has been a Visiting Professor at the Information School, University of Sheffield and is currently working on developing new approaches to search evaluation.

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