Monday, September 18, 2023

Does "situational awareness" in AI's large language models mean consciousness?

The answer to that question would be no, for a number of reasons I won't go into, but Berglund et al. provide an interesting nudge in the direction of sentiece like behavior in some large language models by showing an example of situational awareness. They provide a link to their code. Here is their abstract:
We aim to better understand the emergence of `situational awareness' in large language models (LLMs). A model is situationally aware if it's aware that it's a model and can recognize whether it's currently in testing or deployment. Today's LLMs are tested for safety and alignment before they are deployed. An LLM could exploit situational awareness to achieve a high score on safety tests, while taking harmful actions after deployment. Situational awareness may emerge unexpectedly as a byproduct of model scaling. One way to better foresee this emergence is to run scaling experiments on abilities necessary for situational awareness. As such an ability, we propose `out-of-context reasoning' (in contrast to in-context learning). We study out-of-context reasoning experimentally. First, we finetune an LLM on a description of a test while providing no examples or demonstrations. At test time, we assess whether the model can pass the test. To our surprise, we find that LLMs succeed on this out-of-context reasoning task. Their success is sensitive to the training setup and only works when we apply data augmentation. For both GPT-3 and LLaMA-1, performance improves with model size. These findings offer a foundation for further empirical study, towards predicting and potentially controlling the emergence of situational awareness in LLMs. Code is available at: this https URL.

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