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Practical Generative AI Guidelines

Generative AI produces outputs with increasing similarity to human-generated content — and with exponentially greater efficiency. 

This technology is still in development, but its potential uses are vast. GenAI is skilled at integrating natural language into various work processes. Businesses can use these features to their advantage, accelerating analysis, summarizing large documents, coming up with fresh ideas, and boosting productivity and performance.

The initial investment might seem daunting for businesses considering using AI. They must evaluate whether it's worth the cost and excitement. However, practical guidelines are available for those looking to explore Generative AI, which can aid in making the right decision.

Define Your Use Cases 

Incorporating GenAI into your business doesn't have to be a daunting task. Here's how to make it more manageable and tailored to your specific needs:

Start Simple 

Define your goals and needs as precisely as possible. The narrower your focus, the better. Gall's Law teaches us that a complex system that works will usually evolve from a simpler one that also worked. So, don't jump straight into a grand, complex system; instead, build on a basic foundation that can be expanded later.

Be Practical 

Select projects that are small and realistic for your organization. Trying to design a huge system without the right knowledge or experience can lead to failure. Focus on valuable and achievable goals. For example, a law firm might create an automated workflow to sort and analyze documents from potential clients.

Identify Specific Objectives 

What exactly do you want to accomplish? Break down your goals into specific tasks and objectives. Ask yourself how you can create workflows to achieve those aims. What are the steps involved, the required inputs, and the expected outputs? Whether you're working with text-to-image or text-to-text technologies, understanding the process will help.

Consider Your Existing Systems  

Think about how your project will fit into any existing systems or specific applications in your company. This attention to detail ensures that your GenAI project will align with what's already in place, making implementation smoother and more effective.

By following these practical steps, you can craft a GenAI strategy that's both achievable and valuable for your organization. It's about starting small, focusing on what's essential, and building from there, always keeping your specific business needs at the heart of the project.

Assess Risks for Each Use Case 

Utilizing GenAI in your business is an exciting prospect, but it's essential to be aware of several critical considerations.

Security must be top of mind, especially if you're considering free or open-source GenAI solutions. These platforms can pose risks to your confidential information, as any data entered might be used to train the model. The safest course is to avoid using sensitive business data with these platforms altogether. Even with expert-built enterprise solutions that offer more robust security, vigilance is required to prevent unauthorized access or misuse.

Accuracy is another vital concern. GenAI's approach can sometimes result in "hallucinations" or inaccurate outputs. As explained by Max Goff, a Data Science Consultant at Mission Cloud, GenAI creates something new from what wasn't there before. It bases its decisions on probabilities, meaning it might "make some stuff up." Understanding this possibility helps in effectively evaluating the results.

Legal and regulatory considerations must also be navigated carefully. Ownership, licensing, compliance, and regulation all require thorough assessment and understanding. Identifying how each of these factors could impact your business and taking the necessary precautions will help mitigate risks.

Lastly, it may be wise to start with smaller projects. By doing so, you can closely monitor your workflows, assess risks, costs, and performance, and understand the real value GenAI offers. This allows for informed decision-making as you potentially scale up.   

Evaluate Your AI Performance 

Performance evaluation in the world of GenAI goes beyond mere numbers; it's about the balance between the models' cost, value, size, and effectiveness.

In the past, bigger was often seen as better. Models grew to incredible sizes, boasting billions of parameters, trained on trillions of tokens, and demanding substantial resources. It's a grand picture, but is it always the best approach?

Recent advancements tell a different story. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, and in many cases, there may be more efficient ways to go than larger models. You can achieve similar results by fine-tuning models to target specific problems, industries, or fields of knowledge without the need for these massive structures.

Take Amazon Bedrock, for example. It offers Foundation Models that are already trained, hosted, and ready for you to tap into. You can sidestep the cost and complications of managing giant models yourself. There's no need to create an instance for an endpoint; you can access the model through an API, with the right authentication. It's like having a powerhouse at your fingertips without the fuss.

Amazon SageMaker JumpStart provides a similar path but with slight differences, like the need for SageMaker functions to create an endpoint for hosting a model. And if you're venturing outside AWS, you have even more architectural options, like hosting an open-source model on an EC2 instance or an endpoint via SageMaker.

In essence, the landscape of GenAI is vibrant and versatile, providing options that fit your needs rather than forcing you into a one-size-fits-all approach. It's about finding the right tool for the job, whether a colossal model or a fine-tuned marvel. Embrace the flexibility, explore the options, and let GenAI work for you in the most efficient way possible.

Understand the Context

Once you've selected a GenAI model and figured out where and how to host it, the real crafting begins: getting the model to do precisely what you want. This stage involves a nuanced blend of fine-tuning, prompt engineering, and context understanding.

Context is crucial in working with GenAI, primarily since these models are trained on languages like English and can be fine-tuned for particular tasks, such as conversation or industry-specific functions. Think of it like a specialized tool: a language model fine-tuned for casual chatting will have a different vocabulary and focus than one trained for the healthcare industry.

According to Goff, understanding this continuum of context is key when interacting with models. At one end, you find low-cost, simple interactions, like using pre-made interfaces such as MidJourney or Dall-E. "What you see is what you get to interact with. That's low cost, it's easy and a good way to go," Goff says.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the high-cost, complex implementations, such as training a model entirely from scratch. This approach demands extensive GPU time and data and can be costly.

But here's where it gets exciting: there's a balanced middle ground, a sweet spot that offers tailored functionality without breaking the bank. Instead of building from the ground up, you can fine-tune an existing model, molding it to fit your specific needs. Techniques such as prompt engineering or retrieval augmented generation (RAG) allow you to refine a model with additional data, sculpting it into the perfect tool for your desired output.

Whether you need something quick and straightforward or highly specialized, there's a method to match your needs. The art comes in knowing the context, understanding the tools at your disposal, and crafting them to perform exactly as you envision. It's a process that opens doors to innovation, efficiency, and endless possibilities for your project or business.

Iterate Over the Entire AI Life Cycle

Iterating over the entire AI life cycle is an important way to ensure that your AI system is suitable for the given environment and will produce the desired results. This means continually assessing, improving and refining your system throughout its entire life cycle, including its development, deployment and maintenance.

Assess performance and reliability at each stage of development. This includes testing for accuracy and validity and assessing the system's ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The dataset you ‌use to train your model will also directly impact performance. 

Over time you can access additional data to enhance your models further. Data needs to be high quality and relevant to your specific use cases. It should also include a balance of data from different sources, which will help the model learn a more comprehensive language. Other models and tasks may also require different amounts of training time. Focus on finding the optimal amount of time so the model can learn as much as possible without overfitting.

Once a system has been deployed, monitoring its performance and taking corrective actions when necessary is essential. This includes testing for accuracy and validity and ensuring that the system can adapt to changing conditions. Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure that it remains reliable and effective. This includes regular updates to the system's codebase and data sets, as well as monitoring for any bugs or errors.

“The nice thing about technology and how it deploys,” explained Goff, “is we have the ability to test it in a real environment. So, if something is suited to that environment, it gets rewarded. If something isn’t suited for the environment, it doesn’t get rewarded. That’s Darwinism.”

Be Aware of Governing Policies 

Governments worldwide are increasingly scrutinizing and seeking to regulate AI's development and use. Policies on data security, bias, accountability and other increasingly significant concerns are evolving. It's critical to stay current on current laws and be aware of pending legislation or other regulatory updates that could impact your business. 

Governing policies around AI vary from country to country, meaning it's essential to be informed of the rules and requirements of any country where you're using AI. There may also be additional restrictions or guidelines for specific industries, such as legal or healthcare environments. The explosive growth of GenAI also means that, in many instances, regulation is pacing behind innovation. This can make governing policies complicated to interpret, and companies may find themselves self-regulating in some aspects.

Regardless of whether clear policies are in place, businesses should consider the ethics of any GenAI initiative. Along with data security and privacy, models need to be developed to avoid bias and discrimination. All systems should be designed and implemented in a way that's respectful of people's rights and privacy.

Partner With Experienced AI Experts

Unlocking the full potential of GenAI is about more than following a set of rules; it's about wielding this powerful tool with wisdom and intent. The goal isn't to force models into cumbersome processes – but to harness them effectively and responsibly. These large language models might seem magical, but they're not without challenges, and retreat isn't an option at the first sign of failure. Monitoring, adaptation, and vigilance are critical. Remember, today's mighty models may be a glimpse of what's coming tomorrow.

Need guidance on this exhilarating journey? Mission Cloud stands ready. As an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner with recognized Data and Analytics and Machine Learning competencies, our expertise isn't just proven; it's a pathway to achieving your machine learning goals.

Ready to explore the vast landscape of GenAI with Mission Cloud? Let's connect for a complimentary 60-minute consultation. Together, we'll define your goals, cut through the noise, and chart a course to success.

Author Spotlight:

Ryan Ries

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