2023 is the year of LLMs. ChatGPT, GPT-4, LLaMA, and, more. A new LLM model is taking the spotlight one after the other. These models have revolutionized the field of natural language processing and are being increasingly utilized across various domains.
LLMs possess the remarkable ability to exhibit a wide range of behaviors, including engaging in dialogue, which can lead to a compelling illusion of conversing with a human-like interlocutor. However, it is important to recognize that LLM-based dialogue agents differ significantly from human beings in several respects.
Our language skills are developed through embodied interaction with the world. We, as individuals, acquire cognitive capacities and linguistic abilities through socialization and immersion in a community of language users. This part happens faster in babies, and as we grow old, our learning process slows down; but the fundamentals stay the same.
In contrast, LLMs are disembodied neural networks trained on vast amounts of human-generated text, with the primary objective of predicting the next word or token based on a given context. Their training revolves around learning statistical patterns from language data rather than through the direct experience of the physical world.
Despite these differences, we tend to use LLMs to mimic humans. We do this in chatbots, assistants, etc. Though, this approach poses a challenging dilemma. How do we describe and understand LLMs’ behavior?
It is natural to employ familiar folk-psychological language, using terms like “knows,” “understands,” and “thinks” to describe dialogue agents, as we would with human beings. However, when taken too literally, such language promotes anthropomorphism, exaggerating the similarities between AI systems and humans while obscuring their profound differences.
So how do we approach this dilemma? How can we describe the terms “understanding” and “knowing” for AI models? Let’s jump into the Role Play paper.
In this paper, the authors propose adopting alternative conceptual frameworks and metaphors to think and talk about LLM-based dialogue agents effectively. They advocate for two primary metaphors: viewing the dialogue agent as role-playing a single character or as a superposition of simulacra within a multiverse of possible characters. These metaphors offer different perspectives on understanding the behavior of dialogue agents and have their own distinct advantages.
Example of Autoregressive sampling. Source: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2305.16367.pdf
The first metaphor describes the dialogue agent as playing a specific character. When given a prompt, the agent tries to continue the conversation in a way that matches the assigned role or persona. It aims to respond according to the expectations associated with that role.
The second metaphor sees the dialogue agent as a collection of different characters from various sources. These agents have been trained on a wide range of materials like books, scripts, interviews, and articles, which gives them a lot of knowledge about different types of characters and storylines. As the conversation goes on, the agent adjusts its role and persona based on the training data it has, allowing it to adapt and respond in character.
Example of turn-taking in dialogue agents. Source: https://arxiv.org/pdf/2305.16367.pdf
By adopting this framework, researchers and users can explore important aspects of dialogue agents, like deception and self-awareness, without mistakenly attributing these concepts to humans. Instead, the focus shifts to understanding how dialogue agents behave in role-playing scenarios and the various characters they can imitate.
In conclusion, dialogue agents based on LLM possess the ability to simulate human-like conversations, but they differ significantly from actual human language users. By using alternative metaphors, such as seeing dialogue agents as role-players or combinations of simulations, we can better comprehend and discuss their behavior. These metaphors provide insights into the complex dynamics of LLM-based dialogue systems, enabling us to appreciate their creative potential while recognizing their fundamental distinctness from human beings.
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