Meta-tuning Language Models to Answer Prompts Better

04/10/2021 ∙ by Ruiqi Zhong, et al. ∙ 9

Large pretrained language models like GPT-3 have acquired a surprising ability to perform zero-shot classification (ZSC). For example, to classify review sentiments, we can "prompt" the language model with the review and the question "Is the review positive?" as the context, and ask it to predict whether the next word is "Yes" or "No". However, these models are not specialized for answering these prompts. To address this weakness, we propose meta-tuning, which trains the model to specialize in answering prompts but still generalize to unseen tasks. To create the training data, we aggregated 43 existing datasets, annotated 441 label descriptions in total, and unified them into the above question answering (QA) format. After meta-tuning, our model outperforms a same-sized QA model for most labels on unseen tasks, and we forecast that the performance would improve for even larger models. Therefore, measuring ZSC performance on non-specialized language models might underestimate their true capability, and community-wide efforts on aggregating datasets and unifying their formats can help build models that understand prompts better.

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