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**Prior Amplification Methods: Improving Internet-Scale AI Models**

**Prior Amplification Methods: Enhancing the Quality of AI Models**

As internet-scale AI models continue to evolve, there is a growing need to improve their quality and reliability. While increasing compute power and model parameters can enhance the overall understanding of human experiences, it is crucial to make these models useful and performant in specific applications. This article explores the concept of prior amplification and various methods used to achieve it.

**Understanding Raw Models: Modeling Internet-Scale Data**

Large language models (LLMs) and vision-language models (VLMs) rely on vast amounts of internet-scale data for training. These models are trained on diverse data distributions, ranging from elegant prose and brilliant software projects to toxic online content and amateur photography. While they effectively capture the breadth of human experiences, these raw models may not produce high-quality and consistent outputs required for user-facing applications.

It’s important to note that these raw models are not inherently bad; they accurately model the data they were trained on. However, the dataset priors, which include both desirable and undesirable properties, shape these models. The challenge lies in amplifying the desirable priors while suppressing the undesirable ones.

**Prompting: Guiding Models with Desired Priors**

One approach to steer a foundation model towards desired priors is through prompting. By carefully crafting the context during inference, models can be guided to produce high-quality outputs similar to examples in the training data. For instance, in a chess AI scenario, a promising prompt can make it clear to the model that it should make strong grandmaster-caliber predictions.

However, prompting has its limitations. It heavily relies on patterns and correlations seen in the training dataset. If the dataset contains more undesirable correlations than desirable ones, prompting alone may not be sufficient to escape undesirable regions. Despite its limitations, prompting remains an effective strategy if done correctly.

**Supervised Finetuning (SFT): Training Models on Higher-Quality Datasets**

In supervised finetuning (SFT), raw models pretrained on diverse datasets are further trained on smaller but higher-quality datasets. This approach ensures that the models learn from a target distribution that contains all the desired properties. SFT, also known as behavior cloning, leverages supervised learning to achieve guaranteed success if the data and models are of good quality.

SFT offers flexibility in terms of the finetuning dataset source. It can be a subset of the original dataset or a completely new custom dataset. The process of SFT involves updating the weights of the entire network or only a subset of the network, depending on the specific requirements. Recent advancements in parameter-efficient finetuning methods have allowed for significant innovation, enabling consumer hardware to finetune large foundation models.

While SFT methods amplify desired priors, the composition and quality of the finetuning dataset play a crucial role in the effectiveness of the approach. The choice of priors to amplify is just as important as the method itself.

**Examples of Prior Amplification Methods**

Several prior amplification methods have gained traction in the past year. These methods aim to enhance the quality and reliability of AI models by amplifying desired priors. Some notable examples include:

1. **Prompting:** Guiding models through carefully crafted contexts during inference.
2. **Supervised Finetuning (SFT):** Training models on smaller but higher-quality datasets, updating either the entire network or only a subset of it.


As internet-scale AI models continue to advance, the focus has shifted towards improving their quality and reliability. Prior amplification methods play a crucial role in enhancing these models’ capabilities by amplifying desired priors. Prompting and supervised finetuning are two prominent methods that offer ways to achieve this goal. The choice of method and the quality of the underlying dataset are essential considerations in effectively amplifying priors. With further research and innovation in this field, we can expect continued advancements in the performance and usability of internet-scale AI models.

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