Catching up on the weird world of LLMs
2023-07-30, 16:10–16:45 (US/Pacific), The Barn

Large Language Models are the engines that power AI tools like ChatGPT, Bing and Bard.

They are deeply weird, often frustrating and undeniably fascinating pieces of technology.

This talk will attempt to summarize everything I've learned about them over the past year: how they are built, what they can do, what they can't do and how we can best tame them and use them to solve interesting problems.

LLMs don't have to be large: I'll talk through the latest developments in openly licensed models you can run on your own devices, including on your phone and even in your web browser.

I'll also discuss their as-yet unconquered security flaws, and the bewildering ethical implications of how they are trained and what they can damage.

Simon Willison is the creator of Datasette, an open source tool for exploring and publishing data. He currently works full-time building open source tools for data journalism, built around Datasette and SQLite.

Prior to becoming an independent open source developer, Simon was an engineering director at Eventbrite. Simon joined Eventbrite through their acquisition of Lanyrd, a Y Combinator funded company he co-founded in 2010.

He is a co-creator of the Django Web Framework, and has been blogging about web development and programming since 2002 at