Exploring the Limits of Domain-Adaptive Training for Detoxifying Large-Scale Language Models

Boxin Wang · Wei Ping · Chaowei Xiao · Peng Xu · Mostofa Patwary · Mohammad Shoeybi · Bo Li · Anima Anandkumar · Bryan Catanzaro

Hall J #231

Keywords: [ language model ] [ ethics ] [ toxicity ]


Pre-trained language models (LMs) are shown to easily generate toxic language. In this work, we systematically explore domain-adaptive training to reduce the toxicity of language models. We conduct this study on three dimensions: training corpus, model size, and parameter efficiency. For the training corpus, we demonstrate that using self-generated datasets consistently outperforms the existing baselines across various model sizes on both automatic and human evaluations, even when it uses a 3 1 smaller training corpus. We then comprehensively study detoxifying LMs with parameter sizes ranging from 126M up to 530B (3× larger than GPT3), a scale that has never been studied before. We find that i) large LMs have similar toxicity levels as smaller ones given the same pre-training corpus, and ii) large LMs require more endeavor to unlearn the toxic content seen at pretraining. We also explore parameter-efficient training methods for detoxification. We demonstrate that adding and training adapter-only layers in LMs not only saves a lot of parameters but also achieves a better trade-off between toxicity and perplexity than whole model adaptation for large-scale models. Our code will be available at:

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