On Early Detection of Hallucinations in Factual Question Answering

19 Dec 2023  ·  Ben Snyder, Marius Moisescu, Muhammad Bilal Zafar ·

While large language models (LLMs) have taken great strides towards helping humans with a plethora of tasks like search and summarization, hallucinations remain a major impediment towards gaining user trust. The fluency and coherence of model generations even when hallucinating makes it difficult to detect whether or not a model is hallucinating. In this work, we explore if the artifacts associated with the model generations can provide hints that the generation will contain hallucinations. Specifically, we probe LLMs at 1) the inputs via Integrated Gradients based token attribution, 2) the outputs via the Softmax probabilities, and 3) the internal state via self-attention and fully-connected layer activations for signs of hallucinations on open-ended question answering tasks. Our results show that the distributions of these artifacts differ between hallucinated and non-hallucinated generations. Building on this insight, we train binary classifiers that use these artifacts as input features to classify model generations into hallucinations and non-hallucinations. These hallucination classifiers achieve up to 0.80 AUROC. We further show that tokens preceding a hallucination can predict the subsequent hallucination before it occurs.

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