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Once “too scary” to release, GPT-2 gets squeezed into an Excel spreadsheet

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It seems like AI large language models (LLMs) are everywhere these days due to the rise of ChatGPT. Now, a software developer named Ishan Anand has managed to cram a precursor to ChatGPT called GPT-2—originally released in 2019 after some trepidation from OpenAI—into a working Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. It's freely available and is designed to educate people about how LLMs work.

"By using a spreadsheet anyone (even non-developers) can explore and play directly with how a 'real' transformer works under the hood with minimal abstractions to get in the way," writes Anand on the official website for the sheet, which he calls "Spreadsheets-are-all-you-need." It's a nod to the 2017 research paper "Attention is All You Need" that first described the Transformer architecture that has been foundational to how LLMs work.

Anand packed GPT-2 into an XLSB Microsoft Excel binary file format, and it requires the latest version of Excel to run (but won't work on the web version). It's completely local and doesn't do any API calls to cloud AI services.

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