Eliciting Latent Knowledge from Quirky Language Models

Published on Dec 2, 2023


Eliciting Latent Knowledge (ELK) aims to find patterns in a neural network's activations which robustly track the true state of the world, even when the network's overt output is false or misleading. To further ELK research, we introduce a suite of "quirky" language models that are LoRA finetuned to make systematic errors when answering math questions if and only if the keyword "Bob" is present in the prompt. We demonstrate that simple probing methods can elicit the model's latent knowledge of the correct answer in these contexts, even for problems harder than those the probe was trained on. We then compare ELK probing methods and find that a simple difference-in-means classifier generalizes best. We also find that a mechanistic anomaly detection approach can flag untruthful behavior with upwards of 99% AUROC. Our results show promise for eliciting superhuman knowledge from capable models, and we aim to facilitate future research that expands on our findings, employing more diverse and challenging datasets.


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