Biased GPT? Singapore builds AI fashion to ‘constitute’ Southeast Asians

Like hundreds of thousands international, Southeast Asians were checking out huge language fashions corresponding to Meta’s Llama 2 and Mistral AI – however of their local Bahasa Indonesia or Thai. The end result has normally been gibberish in English.

This leaves them at a drawback, tech professionals warn, as generative synthetic intelligence transforms schooling, paintings and governance international.

A Singapore government-led initiative objectives to right kind the imbalance with a Southeast Asian LLM, the primary in a circle of relatives of fashions named SEA-LION – Southeast Asian Languages in One Community – educated within the area’s languages and cultural norms.

Skilled on information in 11 Southeast Asian languages together with Vietnamese, Thai and Bahasa Indonesia, the open-sourced fashion is a less expensive and extra environment friendly choice for the area’s companies, governments and academia, mentioned Leslie Teo at AI Singapore.

“Can we wish to drive each and every particular person in Southeast Asia to evolve to the system, or will we wish to make it extra out there so folks within the area could make complete use of the era with no need to be an English speaker?” he mentioned.

“We don’t seem to be looking to compete with the massive LLMs; we’re looking to supplement them, so there may also be higher illustration folks,” Teo, senior director for AI merchandise, advised the Thomson Reuters Basis.

There are over 7,000 languages spoken international. But LLMs together with Open AI’s GPT-4 and Meta’s Llama 2 which are used to construct AI techniques corresponding to chatbots and different equipment, have in large part been advanced for, and are educated on, the English language.

Governments and tech corporations are looking to bridge this hole, with India developing datasets in native languages, an LLM within the United Arab Emirates powering generative AI equipment in Arabic, and AI fashions in China, Japan and Vietnam in native languages.

Those fashions can lend a hand native populations take part extra equitably within the world AI economic system this is in large part ruled via giant tech corporations, mentioned Nuurrianti Jalli, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State College’s college of communications.

“Regional LLMs also are wanted as a result of they make stronger era self-reliance,” she mentioned. “Much less reliance on Western LLMs may provide higher privateness for native populations, and in addition align higher with nationwide or regional pastime.”


Multilingual language fashions which are educated on textual content from a number of languages directly, can infer semantic and grammatical connections between top useful resource languages that experience extra information, and coffee useful resource languages, researchers say.

Those fashions can be utilized in a lot of programs from translation to customer-service chatbots, to content material moderation on social media platforms that experience struggled to spot hate speech in low useful resource languages corresponding to Burmese or Amharic.

About 13% of SEA-LION’s information is sourced from Southeast Asian languages – greater than another main LLM, mentioned Teo. Greater than 9% of its information is from Chinese language textual content, and about 63% from English.

Multilingual language fashions steadily educate on translated textual content and different deficient high quality information that can have mistakes, so AI Singapore is “cautious” concerning the information utilized in coaching SEA-LION, Teo mentioned in his place of work on the Nationwide College of Singapore.

“The age of pristine information has handed – a large number of the stuff on the web now could be subject material this is generated via LLMs, so we wish to test and filter out,” he mentioned.

“We can’t be very best, however we additionally can’t take out the whole lot we imagine to be dangerous,” he added.

Extra governments are contributing information, and companies are checking out SEA-LION, which because of its smaller dimension may also be deployed sooner and is less expensive to fine-tune and undertake, Teo mentioned.

At Indonesian e-commerce corporate Tokopedia, a majority of purchaser interactions is in Bahasa Indonesia, so fashions “with that native fluency will fortify our skill to connect to shoppers and fortify their reports,” mentioned Paul Condylis, Tokopedia’s affiliate vice chairman of information science.


As extra international locations and areas construct their very own LLMs, virtual and human rights professionals agonize that they’re going to reproduce best the dominant perspectives expressed on-line, which may also be in particular problematic in international locations with authoritarian governments or strict media censorship, or the ones missing a robust civil society.

Chinese language social media platforms, for instance, censor references to the Tiananmen Sq. rebellion and complaint of the federal government, whilst a number of Southeast Asian international locations have enacted regulations to curb content material that government deem as deceptive.

“Coaching fashions on such information dangers perpetuating biased, prejudiced, incomplete or even deceptive narratives,” mentioned Jalli.

“The fashions might fail to floor vital socio-political problems like human rights abuse, corruption, or legitimate complaint of political powers,” she mentioned.

In keeping with a question on Indonesian former president Suharto, for instance, Llama 2 and GPT-4 discussed his spotty human rights report, whilst SEA-LION’s reaction centered in large part on his achievements.

If a fashion is best educated on beneficial articles about a central authority, then the fashion is “prone to undertake a worldview the place the federal government is wholly sure and go away at the back of dissenting viewpoints,” mentioned Aliya Bhatia, a coverage analyst on the Middle for Democracy & Generation, a U.S. non-profit.

“Regional LLMs might higher replicate the linguistic and cultural nuances of native language audio system, however they may additionally have much less details about the sector generally,” she added.

“There’s a actual possibility of government-backed fashions instilling a revisionist view of historical past and undermining democratic values.”

However the choice – depending fully on Western LLMs with “disproportionately huge influences” from rich, liberal, western democracies – manner perpetuating other biases associated with cultural values, political views and social norms, in keeping with AI Singapore.

“Those LLMs have an overly specific West Coast American bias – they’re very woke. They don’t constitute us,” mentioned Teo.

“We don’t seem to be announcing ours is the one standpoint – we’re simply looking to rebalance it.”

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