Navigating the Large Language Model Landscape | by David Kolb | Jul, 2023


Choices and considerations for enterprises

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Microsoft and Meta have recently unveiled Llama 2, the next-generation open-source large language model (LLM). With Llama 2’s extensive collection of pre-trained and fine-tuned LLMs, businesses now face a crucial question.

What implications does this hold for enterprises seeking to adopt large language models?

As the LLM market gets more complex, companies have five options: pre-trained models, open source model, fine-tuned models, custom models, or partnering with AI Providers/researchers.

In response to this growing complexity in the LLM market, this article aims to summarise the five primary options available to businesses.

Pre-trained Models

Pre-trained models such as ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Microsoft Bing represent a straightforward, efficient solution for enterprises seeking to implement large language models. These models have already undergone extensive training on diverse datasets, offering text generation, language translation, and question-answering capabilities. Their key advantage lies in their immediate usability. With the right strategy, procedures and processes, businesses can deploy these models rapidly, quickly harnessing their capabilities.

However, it’s crucial to remember that while these models were designed for versatility, serving a broad range of applications, they may not excel in tasks particular to your enterprise. Therefore, their suitability should be considered in your unique business needs.

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Open-source models

Open-source models are an affordable choice for enterprises considering an LLM solution. These models, available for free, offer advanced language capabilities while minimising costs. However, it’s important to note that open-source models may not provide the same level of control as proprietary options, especially for organisations requiring extensive customisation.

In some cases, they are trained on smaller datasets than pre-trained models. Open-source LLMs still provide versatility in text generation, translation, and question-answering tasks. The primary advantage of open-source models is their cost-effectiveness. Several open-source providers offer fine-tuning to align with specific business needs, offering a more tailored approach.

One consideration is the maintenance and support of open-source models. Public cloud providers often update and improve their pre-trained models, while open-source models may lack consistent care. It’s essential to assess the reliability and ongoing development of the chosen open-source model to ensure long-term suitability.

Fine-Tuned Models

Fine-tuned models allow enterprises to achieve optimal performance on specific business tasks. These models combine the strengths of pre-trained models by undergoing additional training using the organisation’s data.

A company looking to improve its customer support chatbot may begin with a pre-trained language model capable of understanding and generating natural language. They can fine-tune this model using their historical customer support chat logs to train it on specific customer queries, responses, and context.

The advantage of fine-tuning is the ability to tailor the model to meet specific needs while benefiting from the ease of use provided by pre-trained models. This is especially valuable for industry-specific jargon, unique requirements, or specialised use cases. However, fine-tuning can be resource-intensive, requiring a suitable dataset accurately representing the target domain or task. Acquiring and preparing this dataset may involve additional costs and time.

When executed carefully, fine-tuning empowers enterprises to adapt large language models to their unique requirements, improving performance and task-specific relevance. Despite the planning and investment involved, the benefits make fine-tuned models attractive for organisations aiming to enhance their language processing capabilities.

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Building Custom Models

Building a custom LLM from scratch provides businesses unparalleled control and customisation but comes at a higher cost. This option is complex, requiring machine learning and natural language processing expertise. The advantage of a custom LLM is its tailor-made nature. It can be designed to meet your business’s unique needs, ensuring optimal performance and alignment with objectives.

With a custom LLM, you control the model’s architecture, training data, and fine-tuning parameters. However, building a custom LLM is time-consuming and expensive. It requires a skilled team, hardware, extensive research, data collection and annotation, and rigorous testing. Ongoing maintenance and updates are also necessary to keep the model effective.

Building a custom LLM is the ultimate choice for organisations seeking absolute control and high performance. While it requires investment, it offers a highly tailored solution for your language processing needs.

Hybrid Approaches

Hybrid approaches combine the strengths of different strategies, providing a balanced solution. Businesses can achieve a customised and efficient language model strategy by utilising pre-trained models alongside fine-tuned or custom models.

The approach is optimised to address task-specific requirements and industry nuances. For example, when a new customer request comes in, the pre-trained model can process the text and extract relevant information. This initial interaction benefits from the pre-trained model’s general language understanding and knowledge. The fine-tuned or custom model, explicitly trained on the business’s customer engagement and conversation data, takes over. It analyses the processed information to provide a tailored and contextual response, leveraging its training on customer reviews and similar interactions.

By employing a hybrid approach, enterprises can achieve an adaptable and efficient strategy that provides a tailored solution while leveraging the knowledge in pre-trained models. This strategy offers a practical and effective way to address business-specific requirements within the context of established language models.

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Collaboration with AI Providers

Collaborating with an AI provider is a viable option for businesses implementing LLMs. These providers offer expertise and resources to build and deploy tailored language models. The advantage of partnering with an AI provider is gaining access to their expertise and support. They have deep machine learning and natural language processing knowledge, guiding businesses effectively. They offer insights, recommend models, and provide support throughout development and deployment. Consider that collaborating with an AI provider may involve additional costs. Evaluate the financial implications.

By partnering with an AI provider, enterprises benefit from specialised knowledge, ensuring a smoother integration of LLMs. While costs should be considered, the advantages of working with an AI provider, especially for professional guidance and support, can outweigh the expenses.

Conclusion

In the rapidly evolving world of generative AI, making the right choice requires understanding not just the available models but also how each aligns with your unique business goals.

Here are some key takeaways

  • Large language models have the potential to revolutionise business operations and customer interactions, but harnessing this potential requires a strategy that aligns with your specific needs.
  • Success in implementing these models doesn’t just happen — it’s a choice. It depends on your ability to adopt a holistic view, balancing immediate needs with future trends and opportunities.
  • No one-size-fits-all solution exists. The best strategy will be the one tailor-made for your business.

As you ponder these insights, consider this: in the complex landscape of generative AI, the biggest challenge often isn’t the technology itself, but identifying the right strategy to unlock its potential. And sometimes, the difference between confusion and clarity, or stagnation and progress, is simply the right guidance.

For more information check out David Kolb Consultancy



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