Phil 6.9.21

Thinking ahead: spontaneous prediction in context as a keystone of language in humans and machines

  • Departing from traditional linguistic models, advances in deep learning have resulted in a new type of predictive (autoregressive) deep language models (DLMs). These models are trained to generate appropriate linguistic responses in a given context using a self-supervised prediction task. We provide empirical evidence that the human brain and autoregressive DLMs share two computational principles: 1) both are engaged in continuous prediction; 2) both represent words as a function of the previous context. Behaviorally, we demonstrate a match between humans and DLM’s next-word predictions given sufficient contextual windows during the processing of a real-life narrative. Neurally, we demonstrate that the brain, like autoregressive DLMs, constantly predicts upcoming words in natural speech, hundreds of milliseconds before they are perceived. Finally, we show that DLM’s contextual embeddings capture the neural representation of context-specific word meaning better than arbitrary or static semantic embeddings. Our findings suggest that autoregressive DLMs provide a novel and biologically feasible computational framework for studying the neural basis of language.


  • Even though I have Windows updates turned off, it seems that MS has rebooted my machine last night. Figuring out where the updates stopped so that I can pick up in a reasonable way. Currently,
select count(*) from table_review where row_id is not null;
  • has taken 25 minutes to return. Grrr. And I need a new valve in the shower. Grrr!
  • Update – it took 89 minutes and 32 seconds. There are 3,954,779 values set
    • Back to adding row numbers. Had to figure out where in the table we were, but an hour of coding beats the hell out of a few days of redundant inserts!
  • Pinged Antonio about meeting at 10:00 on Friday


  • More Writing


  • More writing