Learning to summarize with human feedback

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2020)

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Authors

Nisan Stiennon, Long Ouyang, Jeffrey Wu, Daniel Ziegler, Ryan Lowe, Chelsea Voss, Alec Radford, Dario Amodei, Paul F. Christiano

Abstract

<p>As language models become more powerful, training and evaluation are increasingly bottlenecked by the data and metrics used for a particular task. For example, summarization models are often trained to predict human reference summaries and evaluated using ROUGE, but both of these metrics are rough proxies for what we really care about---summary quality. In this work, we show that it is possible to significantly improve summary quality by training a model to optimize for human preferences. We collect a large, high-quality dataset of human comparisons between summaries, train a model to predict the human-preferred summary, and use that model as a reward function to fine-tune a summarization policy using reinforcement learning. We apply our method to a version of the TL;DR dataset of Reddit posts and find that our models significantly outperform both human reference summaries and much larger models fine-tuned with supervised learning alone. Our models also transfer to CNN/DM news articles, producing summaries nearly as good as the human reference without any news-specific fine-tuning. We conduct extensive analyses to understand our human feedback dataset and fine-tuned models. We establish that our reward model generalizes to new datasets, and that optimizing our reward model results in better summaries than optimizing ROUGE according to humans. We hope the evidence from our paper motivates machine learning researchers to pay closer attention to how their training loss affects the model behavior they actually want.</p>