The halls of OpenAI are shrouded in more mystery than usual these days. Hushed whispers echo about a secretive new AI model called Q*(Q Star) that can supposedly solve math problems. This breakthrough was so concerning that it provoked staff backlash and the shocking dismissal of CEO Sam Altman himself.
So what exactly is this AI-powered mathematical genius that has OpenAI tied up in knots? Does it really represent an exponential leap towards machines that can reason and think like humans? Or is the threat being exaggerated like so many past AI panics?
We’ll explore what makes Q* different, why math reasoning is considered the holy grail for AI, and whether this signals we’re careening unchecked towards an artificial general intelligence with its own ideas. Strap in, because this latest AI drama is a thriller that cuts to the heart of the unfolding machine learning revolution.
What is Q* and what makes it different?
Q* is an unofficial OpenAI project that focuses on AI applications to logical and mathematical reasoning. It has garnered attention due to the warning from some company employees in November 2023, who suggested that Q* could indicate the imminent emergence of artificial general intelligence (AGI). This warning letter reportedly led to the firing of CEO Sam Altman. Some at OpenAI believe that Q* could be a breakthrough in the startup’s search for AGI, which is defined as autonomous systems that surpass humans in most economically valuable tasks.
Specifically, Q* is believed to be a hybrid model combining elements of q-learning and A* search algorithms. OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever has previously published research on q-learning, a form of reinforcement learning. The A* algorithm is a well-known search method used for pathfinding. The idea is that Q* was able to perform math very accurately at the level of a school child, which is impressive since mathematical reasoning is an essential component of building AGI, something that large language models struggle with. This suggests Q* may unlock a new classification of logical and abstract problems that AI systems can solve – a key milestone on the road to artificial general intelligence.
While the actual capabilities of Q* remain ambiguous, it has clear symbolic importance. If Q* allows AI systems to logically reason about facts and concepts instead of just predicting words, it would be a huge leap forward. However, whether mathematical aptitude truly brings us closer to human-level AGI, or if the threat is being exaggerated, remains hotly debated even within OpenAI itself.
Potential capabilities in math and logical reasoning
The potential capabilities in math and logical reasoning are vast and can be applied in various fields such as artificial intelligence, problem-solving, decision-making, and scientific research. In the context of AI, projects like Q* by OpenAI are focusing on AI applications to logical and mathematical reasoning, aiming to achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI). AGI refers to autonomous systems that surpass humans in most economically valuable tasks. Therefore, the potential capabilities in math and logical reasoning have significant implications for the development of advanced AI systems and their applications in various domains.
While details remain scarce, some AI experts have offered insights into what Q* might entail based on OpenAI’s ongoing research directions.
Yann LeCun, Meta’s Chief AI Scientist, urged ignoring the hype and suggested Q* is likely an attempt by OpenAI at integrating planning capabilities into language models to improve reliability. Planning could replace auto-regressive token prediction, enabling the model to methodically reason towards solutions.
Jim Fan, Nvidia Senior AI Researcher, drew parallels to AlphaGo’s hybrid architecture combining neural networks and search. He speculated Q* similarly fuses learned components like policy and value networks with explicit search procedures to explore the reasoning state space. This allows iterative co-improvement of the learning and planning elements.
By incorporating papers OpenAI recently published on step-by-step reasoning and reward modeling, Fan reconstructed plausible Q* ingredients:
- Policy LLM that executes thought traces for solving problems
- Value LLM that scores reasoning step correctness
- Sophisticated search over reasoning chains like Tree/Graph of Thought
- Formal ground truth for learning like math answers or Lean proof checking
The perpetual learning motion between these components could progressively strengthen Q*’s reasoning abilities, resembling how AlphaGo bootstrapped itself to superhuman performance via self-play.
While speculative, these expert guesses illustrate promising directions for enhancing reasoning in LLMs – whether in Q* or alternatives from DeepMind and others. But creativity and general intelligence remain ever-elusive holy grails.