Magic as a Metaphor for Discussing Language Models

We need a non-anthropomorphised vocabulary for discussing language models. And at least one is starting to bloom, often with meanings that are surprisingly consistent across people working with these models.

Some people playing with language models have intentionally adopted the language of magic; they describe using language models with the terminology of demon summoning, spellcasting, binding and so on. At the beginning of the study, I thought that users of these terms would be a disconnected sub-community relating to new technology in their own wonderful way. So what was surprising was how regularly words from this realm would come up from other study participants in completely disconnected contexts – from research directors, security professionals, machine learning experts – who use the models in activities like due diligence, red-teaming, writing assistance, and NLP research.

This makes for a small lexicographic study of how words of magic fill that vocabulary gap. We don’t have a huge number of study subjects – just a few dozen; language model prompting is very new and not many people do it to the point where they need to discuss it in detail. That’s fine – you don’t need a big number of examples to show that a word usage exists; one is enough! In a way, we’re lucky to have enough examples to see the metaphor used at all.

Here are some of the terms we heard, with definitions and supporting quotes. A couple have come from beyond our study; these have links. I want to emphasize that these are spontaneous quotes, collected in the wild, from multiple participants, many of whom have robust ranges of technical terms to hand that they could have used instead.

Read More at Inter Human Agreement

Read the rest at Inter Human Agreement