Stephen Ornes in Quanta:
Recent investigations like the one Dyer worked on have revealed that LLMs can produce hundreds of “emergent” abilities — tasks that big models can complete that smaller models can’t, many of which seem to have little to do with analyzing text. They range from multiplication to generating executable computer code to, apparently, decoding movies based on emojis. New analyses suggest that for some tasks and some models, there’s a threshold of complexity beyond which the functionality of the model skyrockets. (They also suggest a dark flip side: As they increase in complexity, some models reveal new biases and inaccuracies in their responses.)
“That language models can do these sort of things was never discussed in any literature that I’m aware of,” said Rishi Bommasani, a computer scientist at Stanford University. Last year, he helped compile a list of dozens of emergent behaviors, including several identified in Dyer’s project. That list continues to grow.