Generative AI’s Fatal Flaw: Tokens

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    The Fake “Intelligence” of Tokenization: How Generative AI is Fundamentally Flawed

    The so-called “transformers” at the heart of generative AI are not as intelligent as their proponents claim. In fact, their Achilles’ heel is a little-known fact about how they process text: they can’t even be bothered to tokenize correctly.

    Tokenization is supposed to be the process of breaking down text into bite-sized pieces, making it easier for AI models to understand and analyze. But in reality, it’s a crutch that allows these models to rely on lazy shortcuts rather than truly comprehend language.

    The truth is that the current tokenization methods are plagued by biases and inconsistencies, causing problems like the “capital letter test” and the “Chinese punctuation puzzle”. It’s a recipe for disaster, and yet, despite being well-documented, tokenization remains the default choice for generative AI models.

    But the impact goes far beyond simple inaccuracies. Tokenization can be disastrous for languages other than English, which often use non-atomic symbols or logographic characters that can’t be easily parsed into separate tokens. This means that models like OpenAI’s GPT-4 can perform dramatically worse on non-English text, not because they’re biased or unfair, but because their fundamentally flawed architecture can’t cope with the nuances of other languages.

    And what about math? Oh, how sweetly the tokenization cherry pits drop from the tree. Numbers? Ha! Tokenizers might treat “380” and “381” as separate entities, simply because they don’t understand that these digits are part of the same conceptual whole. No wonder transformers stumble when faced with simple math problems!

    It’s not just about anagram-solving or word-reversals either. Tokenization underpins the very fabric of modern generative AI, and its weaknesses manifest in all sorts of weird behaviors. Ask anyone who’s ever struggled to reverse a sentence or solve a math problem, only to be met with the abyss of tokenization’s failings.

    But don’t just take our word for it. The great minds of AI research are already turning the table on tokenization, seeking innovative architectures that can bypass this crippled “feature” altogether. Models like MambaByte, which work directly with raw bytes representing text and other data, might be the game-changers that make generative AI truly useful. Only time will tell.

    Until then, beware the tokenization trap that claims to hold the key to artificial intelligence. Remember, it’s not about creating human-like intelligence, but about manipulating linguistic artifacts to fit a predetermined template. For all its flaws, the status quo might just be better off as it is – tokenized, biased, and above all, comprehensible.

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