Meet mPLUG-Owl2: A Multi-Modal Foundation Model that Transforms Multi-modal Large Language Models (MLLMs) with Modality Collaboration

Large Language Models, with their human-imitating capabilities, have taken the Artificial Intelligence community by storm. With exceptional text understanding and generation skills, models like GPT-3, LLaMA, GPT-4, and PaLM have gained a lot of attention and popularity. GPT-4, the recently launched model by OpenAI due to its multi-modal capabilities, has gathered everyone’s interest in the convergence of vision and language applications, as a result of which MLLMs (Multi-modal Large Language Models) have been developed. MLLMs have been introduced with the intention of improving them by adding visual problem-solving capabilities.

Researchers have been focussing on multi-modal learning, and previous studies have found that several modalities can work well together to improve performance on text and multi-modal tasks at the same time. The currently existing solutions, such as cross-modal alignment modules, limit the potential for modality collaboration. Large Language Models are fine-tuned during multi-modal instruction, which leads to a compromise of text task performance that comes off as a big challenge.

To address all these challenges, a team of researchers from Alibaba Group has proposed a new multi-modal foundation model called mPLUG-Owl2. The modularized network architecture of mPLUG-Owl2 takes interference and modality cooperation into account. This model combines the common functional modules to encourage cross-modal cooperation and a modality-adaptive module to transition between various modalities seamlessly. By doing this, it utilizes a language decoder as a universal interface.

This modality-adaptive module guarantees cooperation between the two modalities by projecting the verbal and visual modalities into a common semantic space while maintaining modality-specific characteristics. The team has presented a two-stage training paradigm for mPLUG-Owl2 that consists of joint vision-language instruction tuning and vision-language pre-training. With the help of this paradigm, the vision encoder has been made to collect both high-level and low-level semantic visual information more efficiently.

The team has conducted various evaluations and has demonstrated mPLUG-Owl2’s ability to generalize to text problems and multi-modal activities. The model demonstrates its versatility as a single generic model by achieving state-of-the-art performances in a variety of tasks. The studies have shown that mPLUG-Owl2 is unique as it is the first MLLM model to show modality collaboration in scenarios including both pure-text and multiple modalities.

In conclusion, mPLUG-Owl2 is definitely a major advancement and a big step forward in the area of Multi-modal Large Language Models. In contrast to earlier approaches that primarily concentrated on enhancing multi-modal skills, mPLUG-Owl2 emphasizes the synergy between modalities to improve performance across a wider range of tasks. The model makes use of a modularized network architecture, in which the language decoder acts as a general-purpose interface for controlling various modalities.


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Tanya Malhotra is a final year undergrad from the University of Petroleum & Energy Studies, Dehradun, pursuing BTech in Computer Science Engineering with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
She is a Data Science enthusiast with good analytical and critical thinking, along with an ardent interest in acquiring new skills, leading groups, and managing work in an organized manner.

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