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Regarding people who play chess against computers, some players like playing only bots because of the psychological pressure that comes from playing against human players. You don't get as upset about a loss if it's just to a machine. I think that would count for a significant fraction of those players.

There are also some new glitch tokens for GPT-3.5 / GPT-4, my favourite is " ForCanBeConverted", although I don't think the behaviour they produce is as interesting and varied as the GPT-3 glitch tokens. It generally seems to process the token as if it was a specific word that varies depending on the context. For example, with " ForCanBeConverted", if you try asking for stories, you tend to get a fairly formulaic story but with the randomized word inserted into it (e.g. "impossible", "innovate", "imaginate", etc.). I think that might be due to  the RLHF harming the model's creativity though, biasing it towards "inoffensive" stories, which would make access to the base model more appealing.

Also, another thought that comes to mind - is it possible that the unexplained changes to the GPT-3 model's output could be related to changes in the underlying hardware or implementation, rather than further training? I'm only thinking this because of the nondeterministic behaviour you get at 0 temperature (especially in the case of glitch tokens where floating-point rounding could make a big difference in the top logits).

It's really a shame that they aren't continuing to make GPT-3 available for further research, and I really hope they reconsider this. Your deep dives into the mystery and psychology behind these tokens has been fascinating to read.

This fits with my experience talking to people unfamiliar with the field. Many do seem to think it's closer to GOFAI, explicitly programmed, maybe with a big database of stuff scraped from the internet that gets mixed-and-matched depending on the situation.

Examples include:

  • Discussions around the affect of AI in the art world often seem to imply that these AIs are taking images directly from the internet and somehow "merging" them together, using a clever (and completely unspecified) algorithm. Sometimes it's implied or even outright stated that this is just a new way to get around copyright.
  • Talking about ChatGPT with some friends who have some degree of coding / engineering knowledge, they frequently say things like "it's not really writing anything, it's just copied from a database / the internet".
  • I've also read many news articles and comments which refer to AIs being "programmed", e.g. "ChatGPT is programmed to avoid violence", "programmed to understand human language", etc.

I think most people who have more than a very passing interest in the topic have a better understanding than that though. And I suspect that many completely non-technical people have such a vague understanstanding of what "programmed" means that it could apply to training an LLM or explictly coding an algorithm. But I do think this is a real misunderstanding that is reasonably widespread.

Sounds like a very interesting project! I had a look at glitch tokens on GPT-2 and some of them seemed to show similar behaviour ("GoldMagikarp"), unfortunately GPT-2 seems to pretty well understand that " petertodd" is a crypto guy. I believe similar was true with " Leilan". Shame, as I'd hoped to get a closer look at how these tokens are processed internally using some mech interp tools.

Note that there are glitch tokens in GPT3.5 and GPT4! The tokenizer was changed to a 100k vocabulary (rather than 50k) so all of the tokens are different, but they are there. Try " ForCanBeConverted" as an example.

If I remember correctly, "davidjl" is the only old glitch token that carries over to the new tokenizer.

Apart from that, some lists have been created and there do exist a good selection.


Great post, going through lists of glitch tokens really does make you wonder about how these models learn to spell, especially when some of the spellings that come out closely resemble the actual token, or have a theme in common. How many times did the model see this token in training? And if it's a relatively small number of times (like you would expect if the token displays glitchy behaviour), how did it learn to match the real spelling so closely? Nice to see someone looking into this stuff more closely.

Nice idea and very well implemented. Quite enjoyable too, I hope you keep it going. Just a quick idea that came to mind - perhaps the vote suggestion could be hidden until you click to reveal it perhaps? Think I can feel a little confirmation bias potentially creeping into my answers (so I'm avoiding looking at the suggestion until I've formed my own opinion). Apologies if there is already an option for that or if I missed something. I mostly jumped right in after skimming the tutorial since I have tried reading neurons for meaning before.

Thanks for posting this! Coincidentally, just yesterday I was wondering if there were any mech interp challenges like these, it seems to lend itself to this kind of thing. Had been considering trying to come up with a few myself.

Yes that's what I take would happen too unless I'm misunderstanding something? Because it would seem far more probable for *just* your consciousness to somehow still exist, defying entropy, than for the same thing to happen to an entire civilization (same argument why nearly all Boltzmann brains would be just a bare "brain").

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