Speaker: Emily M. Bender, Professor of Linguistics and Adjunct Professor in the School of Computer Science and the Information School, University of Washington

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Ever since OpenAI released ChatGPT, the internet has been awash in synthetic text, with suggested applications including robo-lawyers, robo-therapists and robo-journalists. Emily Bender posits that all of these applications present unacceptable risks because ChatGPT and all other language models are nothing more than ungrounded text synthesis machines.

In this talk, Bender will overview how language models work and why they can seem to be using language meaningfully—despite only modeling the distribution of word forms. This will lead into a discussion of the risks identified in the Stochastic Parrots paper (Bender, Gebru et al 2021) and how they are playing out in the era of ChatGPT. Finally, Bender will explore what must hold for an appropriate use case for text synthesis.

This talk will be offered simultaneously over Zoom and in person. Light refreshments will be served.

Emily M. Bender is a Professor of Linguistics and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Computer Science and the Information School at the University of Washington, where she has been on the faculty since 2003. Her research interests include multilingual grammar engineering, computational semantics and the societal impacts of language technology. She is the co-author of recent influential papers such as Climbing towards NLU: On Meaning, Form, and Understanding in the Age of Data (ACL 2020), On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big? (FAccT 2021) and AI and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Benchmark (NeurIPS 2021).

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