Personalization of AI: Fine Tuning your LLM

Fine Tuning Your LLM with LEGO

Large language models (LLMs) like GPT-3 have shown impressive capabilities in generating human-like text and engaging in natural conversation. However, these models are trained on vast amounts of diverse data and lack personalization to individual users. Fine tuning allows you to adapt an existing LLM to your own use cases, terminology, writing style, and preferences. This enables the AI to have more relevant and personalized conversations tailored to you.

In this article, we will explore fine tuning and personalization techniques to make your LLM more useful in day-to-day interactions. We will cover:

  • Benefits of personalization
  • Types of fine tuning
  • Data collection and preparation
  • Training process
  • Evaluation and iterating
  • Ethical considerations
  • Limitations and risks
But before that you should first know about the different types of LLMs and the most prominent in the market:

Types of Large Language Models (LLMs)

  • Unidirectional Models: These models like GPT-2 and GPT-3 can only use previous context for predictions. They are auto-regressive and excel at text generation.
  • Bidirectional Models: Models like BERT represent each token using both left and right context. This bidirectional approach is better for language understanding tasks.
  • Encoder-Decoder Models: These combine a bidirectional encoder that reads input text with an autoregressive decoder to generate output. Examples are BART, T5, and MarianMT.
  • Multitask Models: Models like T5 are trained on multiple NLP tasks with a shared structure and can switch between tasks. This builds more generalized representations.
  • Knowledge-Enhanced Models: Some LLMs integrate external knowledge into the pretrained representations through infusing knowledge bases, retrieving facts, or training on knowledge resources.
  • Sparsely Activated Models: Techniques like mixture-of-experts and sparse attention lower compute needs for larger model scaling. These include models like GShard and Switch Transformers.
  • Domain-Specific Models: LLMs can be specialized to different domains through fine-tuning on niche datasets. For example legal or scientific text.

Most Prominent and Capable Large Language Models (LLMs) Used for Natural Language Processing

  • GPT-3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer 3) - Created by Anthropic, it has 175 billion parameters making it the largest LLM to date. State-of-the-art for text generation applications.
  • Jurassic-1 - Microsoft's massive LLM with 178 billion parameters, comparable in size to GPT-3. Focuses on safety and neutrality.
  • Megatron-Turing NLG - Nvidia's large LLM with 530 billion parameters. Trained using Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF).
  • PaLM (Pathways Language Model) - Created by Google, it has 540 billion parameters. Introduced Pathways sparse training technique.
  • Bloom - By Anthropic, a 176 billion parameter LLM trained with Constitutional AI techniques for safety.
  • Gopher - DeepMind's LLM trained on 300 billion tokens with parameter efficient scaling methods.
  • BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) - Though smaller in size, BERT pioneered the popular bidirectional transformer architecture.
  • T5 (Text-to-Text Transfer Transformer) - Google's encoder-decoder LLM framework focused on multi-task learning.
  • ERNIE 3.0 - Baidu's large Chinese-language model with 200 billion parameters and knowledge enhancement.
Now it is time to talk about our fine tuning and personalization techniques:

Benefits of Personalization

Here are some key benefits of fine tuning your LLM assistant:

  • More relevant responses - The AI will learn your terminology, interests, preferences to have better conversations.
  • Improved accuracy - Fine tuning on your data will reduce mistakes and incorrect responses.
  • Faster response time - The model becomes specialized in your domains and can understand and generate text quicker.
  • Personalized creativity - The AI can take on your writing style and tone and generate original text catered to you.
  • Custom capabilities - You can teach new skills like summarizing your emails, writing reports, analyzing data, etc.
  • Privacy and control - Your data stays private and you have full control over what the AI learns compared to a generic model.

Overall, a personalized AI can feel more natural, intuitive, and intelligent in daily interactions. While a generic LLM has wide capabilities, fine tuning narrows the scope to what's most useful for you.

Types of Fine Tuning

There are a few key ways you can fine tune an existing LLM:

  • Task-specific training - Provide labeled data relevant to a specific task like email writing, data analysis, content generation etc. This teaches the model your terminology and objectives for that domain.
  • Text style matching - Give examples of how you write to teach the AI your tone of voice, vocabulary, opinions and writing patterns.
  • Reinforcement learning from interactions - The model gets feedback on its responses to improve through your real-time interactions and corrections.
  • Knowledge base training - If you have manuals, docs or structured data the AI can learn from, you can directly train on this knowledge.
  • Hybrid - You can combine different training strategies like supervised learning on labeled data, then reinforcement learning through use.

The best approach depends on your goals and the data sources available. Reinforcement learning through real usage often produces the best personalized behaviors.

Data Collection and Preparation

Fine tuning requires training data that teaches the fundamental knowledge and capabilities you want the AI to learn. Collecting high-quality data is key to successfully training a personalized model. Here are some best practices:

What data should you collect?

  • Examples of desired interactions - conversations, emails, reports that show the model how you communicate and what you want it to produce. The closer to the target use cases the better.
  • Knowledge resources - manuals, docs, structured data that teach relevant concepts and skills.
  • Background content - articles, books, websites related to topics you discuss for broader world knowledge.

Data diversity

  • Cover multiple topics - go beyond just one domain, include a breadth of knowledge areas.
  • Vary style and tone - have both formal and informal examples to handle different situations.
  • Include negatives - incorrectly formatted data, conversational mistakes, etc. also provide useful training signals.
  • Gather from multiple sources - get input from colleagues, augment with external content.

Data quantity

  • Aim for thousands of examples - models benefit from larger datasets, but returns diminish over hundreds of thousands of examples.
  • Start small - a few hundred high-quality examples are very useful at the start.
  • Expand over time - you can iteratively add more data to continue improving.


  • Clean and filter - remove incorrect examples, typos, sensitive or duplicative entries.
  • Structure the data - labeling, classifications and metadata can help the model learn specialized behaviors.
  • Augment where possible - generate additional synthetic variants of real examples through paraphrasing, noise injection etc.
  • Anonymize private info - remove names, emails, IDs etc. that aren't needed.
  • Format consistently - clean markdown, consistent length and structure aids learning.

The goal is to collect a diverse, high-quality dataset with enough examples for robust learning, while preprocessing to maximize training efficiency. Plan iteration by starting with a small but powerful dataset, then growing over time.

Training Process

Once you have prepared your training data, you can begin fine tuning the model. Here is a detailed overview of the training process:

Choosing a base model

  • Start with a pretrained model like GPT-3 if available or use a smaller general domain model.
  • Pick a model size appropriate for your dataset and use case - billions of parameters are unnecessary for specialized domains.
  • Leverage transfer learning - initialize from an existing model before your specialized fine tuning.

Training parameters

  • Learning rate - start low like 1e-5 then increase if loss plateaus.
  • Epochs - train for at least 10+ epochs, monitor performance on a dev set.
  • Batch size - smaller batches (4-64) better capture word relationships.
  • Optimizer - Adam or AdamW work well, reduce weight decay if overfitting.
  • Loss function - standard cross entropy loss for text generation.
  • Regularization - dropout, weight decay help prevent overfitting.

Training process

  • Upload and shuffle your dataset.
  • Feed batches of data, compute loss, update parameters through backward pass and optimization steps.
  • Repeat for all data over many epochs until satisfactory performance is reached.
  • Save periodic checkpoints to return to best versions.

Monitoring training

  • Track loss - ensure it decreases over time.
  • Monitor metrics on dev set frequently - accuracy, perplexity, BLEU etc.
  • Check quality of model outputs - both metrics and samples to get the full picture.
  • Use early stopping if overfitting - end training if dev metrics degrade.

Once trained, integrate your model into an inference pipeline for interactive use. Expect to run multiple training iterations and collect additional data over time to continue improving the personalized performance. With well constructed datasets and training regimes, you can achieve great capabilities from fine tuned models.

Evaluation and Iterating

After training your model, it's critical to evaluate the performance and continue iterating. Here are tips on evaluating and improving through continuous feedback:

  • Use your held out test set for unbiased evaluation. Check for model drift if performance drops.
  • Test in real applications and get user feedback. Metrics alone don't tell the whole story.
  • Check for gaps - are there areas/questions the model still struggles with? Add more examples.
  • Assess writing quality - does it capture your tone, style and opinions naturally?
  • Monitor model confidence - low confidence can indicate gaps requiring more training.
  • Update training data periodically - save new examples of good behavior/responses.
  • Retrain on new data - further training constantly improves the model.
  • Balance feedback with patience - some mistakes are expected early on as the model learns.

The key is continuously evaluating performance in real usage and adding new training data over time. Fine tuning is an iterative process, not a one-time step.

Ethical Considerations

Fine tuning an AI assistant comes with ethical considerations to keep in mind:

  • Avoid illegal/unethical training data - filter out any inappropriate, biased or harmful examples.
  • Monitor for potential biases - evaluate model responses for unfair biases, mitigate risks.
  • Retain control over model usage - protect against potential misuse or unintended harm.
  • Limit personal data exposure - anonymize names/emails in training data and delete raw data after use.
  • Transparency in capabilities - communicate honestly what the AI can and can't do to set proper expectations.
  • Consider security - take reasonable steps to prevent leaks or hacking of private data/conversations.
  • Enable human oversight - have processes for human review of model mistakes and override of bad responses.

Responsibly applied fine tuning can mitigate many of these risks. Being mindful of ethical AI practices leads to the best outcomes for both users and technology.

Limitations and Risks

Despite the benefits, there are some limitations and risks to be aware of:

  • Overfitting - too narrow training can reduce general usefulness
  • Training data bias - AI inherits human biases from non-diverse data
  • Privacy risks from exposure - models may memorize sensitive examples/data
  • Unsafe content generation - potential for harmful/unethical text generation
  • Dependency and complacency - overreliance on the AI for flawed results
  • Manipulation potential - bad actors could exploit personalized models
  • Model fragility - changes in data/env can degrade performance over time
  • Increased computational cost - fine tuning requires more data, parameters and training

The risks can be managed by following ethical AI best practices - vetting your data, testing thoroughly, monitoring ongoing performance, and retaining human oversight over your models.

In other words, fine tuning is a powerful technique to make LLMs more useful by personalizing them to your needs and preferences. With proper data preparation, training approach, continuous iteration and ethical implementation, you can create AI assistants tailored specifically to how you work and think. Invest time upfront in curating high-quality training data and technical validation to ensure your personalized model delivers robust, helpful capabilities that continue improving over time. Handled responsibly, fine tuning provides an invaluable opportunity to amplify your productivity and knowledge with an AI customized just for you.

Here are some good resources to learn more about fine tuning large language models (LLMs):




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