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Prompt Risk Control: A Rigorous Framework for Responsible Deployment of Large Language Models

Thomas Zollo · Todd Morrill · Zhun Deng · Jake Snell · Toniann Pitassi · Richard Zemel

Halle B #93
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Tue 7 May 1:45 a.m. PDT — 3:45 a.m. PDT


With the explosion of the zero-shot capabilities of (and thus interest in) pre-trained large language models, there has come accompanying interest in how best to prompt a language model to perform a given task. While it may be tempting to choose a prompt based on empirical results on a validation set, this can lead to a deployment where an unexpectedly high loss occurs. To mitigate this prospect, we propose a lightweight framework, Prompt Risk Control, for selecting a prompt based on rigorous upper bounds on families of informative risk measures. We provide and compare different methods for producing bounds on a diverse set of risk metrics like mean, CVaR, and the Gini coefficient of the loss distribution. In addition, we extend the underlying statistical bounding techniques to accommodate the possibility of distribution shifts in deployment. Extensive experiments on high-impact applications like chatbots, medical question answering, and news summarization highlight why such a framework is necessary to reduce exposure to the worst outcomes.

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