The Slodderwetenschap (Sloppy Science) of Stochastic Parrots – A Plea for Science to NOT take the Route Advocated by Gebru and Bender

01/11/2021 ∙ by Michael Lissack, et al. ∙ 0

This article is a position paper written in reaction to the now-infamous paper titled "On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?" by Timnit Gebru, Emily Bender, and others who were, as of the date of this writing, still unnamed. I find the ethics of the Parrot Paper lacking, and in that lack, I worry about the direction in which computer science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are heading. At best, I would describe the argumentation and evidentiary practices embodied in the Parrot Paper as Slodderwetenschap (Dutch for Sloppy Science) – a word which the academic world last widely used in conjunction with the Diederik Stapel affair in psychology [2]. What is missing in the Parrot Paper are three critical elements: 1) acknowledgment that it is a position paper/advocacy piece rather than research, 2) explicit articulation of the critical presuppositions, and 3) explicit consideration of cost/benefit trade-offs rather than a mere recitation of potential "harms" as if benefits did not matter. To leave out these three elements is not good practice for either science or research.



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