Stanford: Llama Hallucinating at the Dollar Store

March 21, 2023

Editor’s Note: This essay is the work of a real, and still alive, dinobaby. No smart software involved with the exception of the addled llama.

What happens when folks at Stanford University use the output of OpenAI to create another generative system? First, a blog article appears; for example, “Stanford’s Alpaca Shows That OpenAI May Have a Problem.” Second, I am waiting for legal eagles to take flight. Some may already be aloft and circling.


A hallucinating llama which confused grazing on other wizards’ work with munching on mushrooms. The art was a creation of The smart software suggests the llama is having a hallucination.

What’s happening?

The model trained from OWW or Other Wizards’ Work mostly works. The gotcha is that using OWW without any silly worrying about copyrights was cheap. According to the write up, the total (excluding wizards’ time) was $600.

The article pinpoints the issue:

Alignment researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky summarizes the problem this poses for companies like OpenAI:” If you allow any sufficiently wide-ranging access to your AI model, even by paid API, you’re giving away your business crown jewels to competitors that can then nearly-clone your model without all the hard work you did to build up your own fine-tuning dataset.” What can OpenAI do about that? Not much, says Yudkowsky: “If you successfully enforce a restriction against commercializing an imitation trained on your I/O – a legal prospect that’s never been tested, at this point – that means the competing checkpoints go up on BitTorrent.”

I love the rapid rise in smart software uptake and now the snappy shift to commoditization. The VCs counting on big smart software payoffs may want to think about why the llama in the illustration looks as if synapses are forming new, low cost connections. Low cost as in really cheap I think.

Stephen E Arnold, March 21, 2023


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