Mar 5, 2024
 • 
1 min read

LXMs: Expanding Beyond Large Language Models

If you’re a techie like me, and have lived through the evolution of Neural Networks and Machine Learning into Deep Learning in the last couple of decades, you have to admit that we live in magical times! There is no question that Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Claude, Bard (now Gemini) and LLaMA are a significant milestone in the evolution of AI! These advanced systems, excelling in understanding and generating human language, have not only captivated the tech community but also opened up a spectrum of possibilities for applications of AI. As these large models are applied to a variety of fields, such as healthcare, biology and even architecture, we are starting to see the emergence of Large “X” Models, which I’m labeling LXMs, and the move from generalist models to focused, specialist ones.
Toufic Boubez
Toufic Boubez

Language Language Models Are Just the Beginning

If you’re a techie like me, and have lived through the evolution of Neural Networks and Machine Learning into Deep Learning in the last couple of decades, you have to admit that we live in magical times! There is no question that Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Claude, Bard (now Gemini) and LLaMA are a significant milestone in the evolution of AI (and let’s not get into the discussion of whether LLMs are “true” AI, or truly understand us, at least not here – I’ll do another article on that topic in the near future!) These advanced systems, excelling in understanding and generating human language, have not only captivated the tech community but also opened up a spectrum of possibilities for applications of AI. As someone who has been deeply involved in the AI industry for a long time, I have been very interested in the concept of applying similar modeling techniques to non-language applications. There seems to be a burgeoning buzz of activity on models beyond the realm of language and images, applying the core principles of language models and adapting them to address complex challenges in various sectors. As these large models are applied to a variety of fields, such as healthcare, biology and even architecture (a plug from the Catio shameless commerce division, for all of you Car Talk fans), we are starting to see the emergence of Large “X” Models, which I’m labeling LXMs, and the move from generalist models to focused, specialist ones.

Embeddings: The Core of Language Models

At the heart of any Large Language Model lies a critical concept: embedding. In simple terms, embeddings are numerical representations of words or phrases, transforming the intricacies of language into a format that machines can understand and process. This transformation is far from trivial; it captures the semantic essence of language, allowing models like Claude and ChatGPT to discern context, emotion, and even subtleties of meaning. 

Creating embedding transformations is not a simple or easy task. It involves training models on vast corpuses of text data, where the model learns to associate words with meanings based on their usage. For instance, the word 'apple' in the context of 'technology' or 'fruit' would have distinct representations, reflecting its different meanings. There are many great explanations of embeddings that go into more details. For a longer discussion about embeddings, take a look here for example. But embeddings don’t have to be confined to language. The underlying principle – converting complex, abstract entities into quantifiable numerical vectors – is a very powerful tool in the AI toolkit. By extending this concept, we can similarly encode various types of data – be it images, audio, patterns of user behavior – into their own vector spaces. This universality of embeddings is what paves the way for their application across a diverse range of AI tasks, going beyond the boundaries of text and speech.

In essence, embeddings are the foundation upon which large models operate, whether they are grappling with the nuances of language or identifying patterns in medical images. Understanding this cornerstone is key to appreciating the versatility and power of AI models in today's technological landscape.

Broadening the Embedding Spectrum

This principle of transforming complex data into a quantifiable vector space is remarkably versatile, with potential applications across an array of domains and data types, some of which are:

  • Audio Embeddings: Carrying the concept of embedding to the audio domain, audio embeddings translate sounds into a numerical format. This allows models to recognize and generate speech, music patterns, or even environmental sounds, opening up possibilities from voice-activated assistants to wildlife monitoring through sound analysis.
  • Behavioral Embeddings: Moving beyond traditional data types, behavioral embeddings represent complex human behaviors in a structured format. These embeddings can capture patterns in user interactions, security, social media activity, or consumer habits, providing valuable insights in areas like personalized marketing or user experience design.
  • Molecular Embeddings: In the scientific field, particularly in drug discovery and genomics, molecular embeddings have emerged as a powerful tool. By representing complex molecular structures as vectors, AI models can predict drug interactions, analyze genetic data, and accelerate the pace of research in biotechnology.

Each of these embedding types demonstrates the adaptability of the core concept initially developed for language models. You can expand this list to a large number of additional domains in order to leverage the power of large deep learning models. By encoding different types of data into a vector space, AI models can perform tasks ranging from pattern recognition to predictive analysis, transcending the limitations of human capability. This broad spectrum of embeddings is not just a testament to the versatility of AI but also a glimpse into its potential to revolutionize various industries.

The Value of Diverse Large Models

The expansion of large model technology beyond the confines of language processing reveals its indispensable value across a multitude of domains. The diversity in large models not only enriches the AI field but also significantly enhances the problem-solving capabilities in various industries. 

For example, Large Language Models initially honed for text are now evolving into Multimodal Large Language Models in order to interpret and generate visual and auditory data. This expansion allows AI to not only 'read' but also 'see' and 'hear', mimicking human-like comprehension in a more holistic manner. Models that analyze visual data can transform industries like security, autonomous driving, and medical imaging, while those that process audio data are revolutionizing speech recognition, music analysis, and environmental monitoring.

In healthcare, large models are enabling breakthroughs in personalized medicine, diagnostic imaging, and genetic research. By processing vast datasets, these models can identify patterns and correlations that are imperceptible to humans, aiding in early disease detection and tailored treatment plans.

Addressing global challenges like climate change, large models are being used to simulate and predict environmental changes. These simulations can provide crucial insights into the effects of various factors on climate, helping in the formulation of strategies to mitigate adverse impacts.

In consumer technology and e-commerce, large models drive personalized user experiences. From recommending products to customizing services, these models analyze user data to tailor experiences, making them more engaging and user-friendly.

To Large X Models and Beyond!

As we embrace the diverse applications of large models, the ethical implications and the need for responsible AI development become paramount. Issues such as privacy, bias, and transparency must be addressed to ensure these technologies can be trusted and are used for the greater good. Another important issue facing the widespread use of large models, which needs to be addressed,  is that of their carbon footprint. The versatility and utility of diverse large models, however, highlight their indispensable value in modern technology and society. Their ability to process and analyze complex data across various domains is not just enhancing existing applications but also paving the way for novel innovations, shaping the future of industries and everyday life. It is not hard to imagine a number of specialist LXMs interacting and collaborating to solve complex problems that are beyond the capabilities of a generalist LLM. Stay tuned for more!

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