Train A GPT-2 LLM, Using Only Pure C Code

[Andrej Karpathy] recently released llm.c, a project that focuses on LLM training in pure C, once again showing that working with these tools isn’t necessarily reliant on sprawling development environments. GPT-2 may be older but is perfectly relevant, being the granddaddy of modern LLMs (large language models) with a clear heritage to more modern offerings.

LLMs are fantastically good at communicating despite not actually knowing what they are saying, and training them usually relies on PyTorch deep learning library, itself written in Python. llm.c takes a simpler approach by implementing the neural network training algorithm for GPT-2 directly. The result is highly focused and surprisingly short: about a thousand lines of C in a single file. It is a highly elegant process that does the same thing the bigger, clunkier methods accomplish. It can run entirely on a CPU, or it can take advantage of GPU acceleration, where available.

This isn’t the first timeĀ [Andrej Karpathy] has bent his considerable skills and understanding towards boiling down these sorts of concepts into bare-bones implementations. We previously covered a project of his that is the “hello world” of GPT, a tiny model that predicts the next bit in a given sequence and offers low-level insight into just how GPT (generative pre-trained transformer) models work.

Make Your Bookshelf Clickable

We’ll confess that we have a fondness for real books and plenty of them. So does [James], and he decided he needed a way to take a picture of his bookshelves and make each book clickable to find more information. This is one of those things that sounds fairly simple until you decide to do it. You can try an example of the results and then go back and read about the journey it took to get there.

There are several subtasks involved. First, you want to identify each book’s envelope. It wouldn’t do to click on the Joy of Cooking and get information about Remembrance of Things Past.

The next challenge is reading the title of the book. This can be tricky. Fonts differ. The book could be upside down. Some titles go cross the spine, but most go vertically. The remainder of the task is fairly easy. If you know the region and the title, you can easily find a link (for Google Books, in this case) and build an SVG overlay that maps the areas for each book to the right link.

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Prompt Injection: An AI-Targeted Attack

For a brief window of time in the mid-2010s, a fairly common joke was to send voice commands to Alexa or other assistant devices over video. Late-night hosts and others would purposefully attempt to activate voice assistants like these en masse and get them to do ridiculous things. This isn’t quite as common of a gag anymore and was relatively harmless unless the voice assistant was set up to do something like automatically place Amazon orders, but now that much more powerful AI tools are coming online we’re seeing that joke taken to its logical conclusion: prompt-injection attacks. Continue reading “Prompt Injection: An AI-Targeted Attack”

The Hello World Of GPT?

Someone wants to learn about Arduino programming. Do you suggest they blink an LED first? Or should they go straight for a 3D laser scanner with galvos, a time-of-flight sensor, and multiple networking options? Most of us need to start with the blinking light and move forward from there. So what if you want to learn about the latest wave of GPT — generative pre-trained transformer — programs? Do you start with a language model that looks at thousands of possible tokens in large contexts? Or should you start with something simple? We think you should start simple, and [Andrej Karpathy] agrees. He has a workbook that makes a tiny GPT that can predict the next bit in a sequence. It isn’t any more practical than a blinking LED, but it is a manageable place to start.

The simple example starts with a vocabulary of two. In other words, characters are 1 or 0. It also uses a context size of 3, so it will look at 3 bits and use that to infer the 4th bit. To further simplify things, the examples assume you will always get a fixed-size sequence of tokens, in this case, eight tokens. Then it builds a little from there.

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Tired Of Web Scraping? Make The AI Do It

[James Turk] has a novel approach to the problem of scraping web content in a structured way without needing to write the kind of page-specific code web scrapers usually have to deal with. How? Just enlist the help of a natural language AI. Scrapeghost relies on OpenAI’s GPT API to parse a web page’s content, pull out and classify any salient bits, and format it in a useful way.

What makes Scrapeghost different is how data gets organized. For example, when instantiating scrapeghost one defines the data one wishes to extract. For example:

from scrapeghost import SchemaScraper
scrape_legislators = SchemaScraper(
"name": "string",
"url": "url",
"district": "string",
"party": "string",
"photo_url": "url",
"offices": [{"name": "string", "address": "string", "phone": "string"}],

The kicker is that this format is entirely up to you! The GPT models are very, very good at processing natural language, and scrapeghost uses GPT to process the scraped data and find (using the example above) whatever looks like a name, district, party, photo, and office address and format it exactly as requested.

It’s an experimental tool and you’ll need an API key from OpenAI to use it, but it has useful features and is certainly a novel approach. There’s a tutorial and even a command-line interface, so check it out.

The Singularity Isn’t Here… Yet

So, GPT-4 is out, and it’s all over for us meatbags. Hype has reached fever pitch, here in the latest and greatest of AI chatbots we finally have something that can surpass us. The singularity has happened, and personally I welcome our new AI overlords.

Hang on a minute though, I smell a rat, and it comes in defining just what intelligence is. In my time I’ve hung out with a lot of very bright people, as well as a lot of not-so-bright people who nonetheless think they’re very clever simply because they have a bunch of qualifications and diplomas. Sadly the experience hasn’t bestowed God-like intelligence on me, but it has given me a handle on the difference between intelligence and knowledge.

My premise is that we humans are conditioned by our education system to equate learning with intelligence, mostly because we have flaky CPUs and worse memory, and that makes learning something a bit of an effort. Thus when we see an AI, a machine that can learn everything because it has a decent CPU and memory, we’re conditioned to think of it as intelligent because that’s what our schools train us to do. In fact it seems intelligent to us not because it’s thinking of new stuff, but merely through knowing stuff we don’t because we haven’t had the time or capacity to learn it.

Growing up and making my earlier career around a major university I’ve seen this in action so many times, people who master one skill, rote-learning the school textbook or the university tutor’s pet views and theories, and barfing them up all over the exam paper to get their amazing qualifications. On paper they’re the cream of the crop, and while it’s true they’re not thick, they’re rarely the special clever people they think they are. People with truly above-average intelligence exist, but in smaller numbers, and their occurrence is not a 1:1 mapping with holders of advanced university degrees.

Even the examples touted of GPT’s brilliance tend to reinforce this. It can do the bar exam or the SAT test, thus we’re told it’s as intelligent as a school-age kid or a lawyer. Both of those qualifications follow our educational system’s flawed premise that education equates to intelligence, so as a machine that’s learned all the facts it follows my point above about learning by rote. The machine has simply barfed up what it has learned the answers are onto the exam paper. Is that intelligence? Is a search engine intelligent?

This is not to say that tools such as GPT-4 are not amazing creations that have a lot of potential to do good things aside from filling up the internet with superficially readable spam. Everyone should have a play with them and investigate their potential, and from that will no doubt come some very interesting things. Just don’t confuse them with real people, because sometimes meatbags can surprise you.

Detecting Machine-Generated Content: An Easier Task For Machine Or Human?

In today’s world we are surrounded by various sources of written information, information which we generally assume to have been written by other humans. Whether this is in the form of books, blogs, news articles, forum posts, feedback on a product page or the discussions on social media and in comment sections, the assumption is that the text we’re reading has been written by another person. However, over the years this assumption has become ever more likely to be false, most recently due to large language models (LLMs) such as GPT-2 and GPT-3 that can churn out plausible paragraphs on just about any topic when requested.

This raises the question of whether we are we about to reach a point where we can no longer be reasonably certain that an online comment, a news article, or even entire books and film scripts weren’t churned out by an algorithm, or perhaps even where an online chat with a new sizzling match turns out to be just you getting it on with an unfeeling collection of code that was trained and tweaked for maximum engagement with customers. (Editor’s note: no, we’re not playing that game here.)

As such machine-generated content and interactions begin to play an ever bigger role, it raises both the question of how you can detect such generated content, as well as whether it matters that the content was generated by an algorithm instead of by a human being.

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