Generative Models In A Nutshell

  • Generative models are those that equip computers with a better understanding of the world experienced by humans.
  • Gartner listed generative AI as one of five rapidly evolving technologies that will play a part in the productivity revolution. Generative models are already effective in life sciences, healthcare, automotive, aerospace, material science, media, entertainment, and defense and energy.
  • Generative AI algorithms undergo unsupervised and semi-supervised learning that enables them to create new content from existing content like text, audio, video, and even code. The overarching objective of a generative model is to create original content that is also plausible.
IntroductionGenerative models are a class of machine learning models designed to generate new data samples that resemble a given dataset. They have gained significant attention in various domains, including computer vision, natural language processing, and creative content generation. Understanding generative models, their principles, types, applications, and challenges is crucial for researchers, developers, and anyone interested in data generation and AI creativity.
Key ConceptsData Generation: Generative models focus on generating data points, such as images, text, or audio, that resemble samples from a target dataset.
Probability Distribution: Generative models learn the underlying probability distribution of the data, allowing them to generate new samples that follow similar statistical patterns.
Latent Space: Many generative models operate in a latent space, where a lower-dimensional representation of the data is learned, making it easier to generate novel samples.
Adversarial Training: Generative adversarial networks (GANs) are a popular type of generative model that involves training a generator network to produce data and a discriminator network to distinguish between real and generated samples.
Variational Inference: Variational autoencoders (VAEs) use variational inference to model the data distribution and generate new samples.
How Generative Models WorkGenerative models operate through several key steps:
Data Collection: Gather a dataset of real samples that the generative model should mimic.
Model Architecture: Choose a generative model architecture such as GANs, VAEs, or autoregressive models.
Training: Train the generative model on the dataset, optimizing its parameters to minimize the difference between generated and real samples.
Sampling: After training, the generative model can generate new data samples by sampling from the learned probability distribution or latent space.
Evaluation: Evaluate the generated samples using metrics like likelihood, quality, or visual inspection.
ApplicationsGenerative models find applications in various fields:
Computer Vision: GANs are used for image generation, style transfer, and super-resolution. VAEs can generate novel images or perform image-to-image translation.
Natural Language Processing: Language models like GPT-3 generate coherent text and can perform text completion, language translation, and content summarization.
Creative Content: Generative models can create art, music, and literature, blurring the line between AI and human creativity.
Data Augmentation: Generative models help augment datasets for training other machine learning models.
Anomaly Detection: Generative models can identify anomalies by recognizing deviations from normal data patterns.
Challenges and ConsiderationsGenerative models face challenges and considerations:
Mode Collapse: GANs can suffer from mode collapse, where they generate a limited set of samples repeatedly.
Training Stability: Training generative models, especially GANs, can be unstable and require careful hyperparameter tuning.
Evaluation Metrics: Defining meaningful evaluation metrics for the quality of generated samples is a challenging problem.
Bias and Fairness: Generative models may inherit biases present in the training data, leading to fairness concerns.
Types of Generative ModelsVarious types of generative models include:
Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs): GANs consist of a generator and discriminator network that compete against each other in a game-like setting.
Variational Autoencoders (VAEs): VAEs use an encoder-decoder architecture to learn a probabilistic mapping between data and a latent space.
Autoregressive Models: Autoregressive models, like PixelCNN and PixelRNN, generate data one element at a time, conditioning on previously generated elements.
Flow-Based Models: Flow-based models learn bijective transformations between data and latent space, enabling efficient sampling.
Future TrendsThe future of generative models includes:
Improved Quality: Research focuses on improving the quality and diversity of generated samples.
Efficiency: More efficient training and sampling methods are developed to reduce computational requirements.
Fairness and Bias Mitigation: Addressing bias and fairness concerns in generated data becomes a priority.
Multi-Modal Generations: Generative models will generate data across multiple modalities, such as text, images, and audio.
ConclusionGenerative models represent a fascinating area of machine learning that enables the creation of new data samples. They have applications ranging from image and text generation to creative content creation and data augmentation. While challenges like mode collapse and training instability exist, ongoing research continues to advance the field, improving the quality and diversity of generated samples. Generative models bridge the gap between AI and creativity, making them a subject of profound interest and exploration in the world of artificial intelligence.

Generative models are those that equip computers with a better understanding of the world experienced by humans.

Understanding generative models

Most of us take our understanding of the physical world for granted, while others may have never stopped to think about how much they know. 

The three-dimensional world we inhabit is made up of objects that move and collide. Animals that fly, swim, bark, and quack.

People that interact, discuss, think, and walk. Computer monitors that display information about how to prune a bonsai, who won a football match, or what happened in the year 1975. 

Most of the information we are exposed to is accessible to us in either physical or digital form. But this is not the case for machine learning models and the algorithms on which they are based.

To create AI that can analyze and then understand the diverse human experience, generative models may be the answer. 

The emergence of generative AI

In its 2022 Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar, Gartner listed generative AI as one of five rapidly evolving technologies that will play a part in the productivity revolution.

Some of Gartner’s key predictions include:

  • By 2025 – generative AI will produce 10% of all data and 20% of all test data related to consumer-facing use cases. It will also be incorporated into 50% of all drug discovery and development ventures.
  • By 2027 – generative AI will be used by 30% of all manufacturers to increase the effectiveness of product development.

Gartner noted that generative AI methods were proving themselves in a wide range of industries such as life sciences, healthcare, automotive, aerospace, material science, media, entertainment, defense, and energy.

How are generative models trained?

Generative AI algorithms undergo unsupervised and semi-supervised learning that enables them to create new content from existing content like text, audio, video, and even code. The overarching objective of a generative model is to create original content that is also plausible.

To train these models, vast amounts of data are first sourced from a particular domain such as sounds or images. Then it is a matter of training the model to produce similar content. 

The neural networks OpenAI uses as generative models, for example, contain several parameters that are much smaller than the amount of data it uses to train them. According to the company, this forces the model to “discover and efficiently internalize the essence of the data in order to generate it.

The GAN approach

OpenAI uses the example of a network that it wants to train to generate 200 realistic images. To ensure the images look real, the company employs what it calls the Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) approach.

The approach involves the introduction of another standard neural network that serves as a discriminator and tries to classify whether an input image is real or fake. OpenAI admitted that it could serve the model with 200 real images and 200 generated images and ask it to train a standard classifier. 

But a better strategy was to change the parameters of the generative AI model to make the 200 samples more confusing to the discriminator. This would result in a battle between the two networks: the discriminator wants to tell the difference between real and generated images, while the generator wants to produce images that make the discriminator believe they are real.

Ultimately, the generative model wins because, from the discriminator’s point of view, it produces images that are indistinguishable from the real thing. 

OpenAI’s model was ultimately forced to compress 200GB of pixel data into just 100MB of weights which encouraged it to identify the most important features of the data. In the context of the model’s training to create realistic images from scratch, it learned that:

  • Pixels in close proximity are more likely to be the same color.
  • The world is comprised of horizontal and vertical edges and blobs of solid color.
  • Certain objects, textures, and backgrounds occur in certain arrangements and, in video, transform over time in specific ways.

Current and future applications of generative models

Generative models have many short-term applications such as structured prediction, image denoising, super-resolution imaging, and also in pre-training where access to labeled data is prohibitively expensive. 

As generative models are trained over the long term, however, it is hoped the AI will develop a fundamental understanding of the world and the elements with which it is comprised. With access to data once off-limits to technology, it is likely AI will become an increasingly powerful and versatile force for consumers and businesses alike.

Key takeaways

  • Definition and Purpose: Generative models equip computers with a deeper understanding of the human experience and aim to create original content based on existing data.
  • Human Understanding: While humans naturally understand the physical world and its complexities, generative models aim to provide similar understanding to AI systems.
  • Emergence in AI Trends: Gartner’s 2022 Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar identified generative AI as a rapidly evolving technology contributing to a productivity revolution.
  • Gartner’s Predictions:
    • By 2025, generative AI will contribute 10% of consumer-facing data and 20% of test data, and be integral to 50% of drug discovery.
    • By 2027, 30% of manufacturers will use generative AI to enhance product development.
  • Diverse Industry Applications: Generative AI is proving valuable in sectors such as life sciences, healthcare, automotive, aerospace, material science, media, entertainment, defense, and energy.
  • Training Process: Generative AI algorithms undergo unsupervised and semi-supervised learning to create new content from various formats like text, audio, video, and code.
  • Model Parameters and Data: Models like OpenAI’s neural networks utilize fewer parameters than the training data, forcing them to grasp essential data essence for generating content.
  • Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) Approach: GANs involve a generator network creating content and a discriminator network discerning real from generated content.
  • Learning Dynamics: The generator aims to create content that deceives the discriminator into viewing it as real, leading to realistic content generation.
  • Essential Features Learned: Over time, generative models learn important features, such as color patterns, edges, textures, object arrangements, and transformations in video data.
  • Applications: Generative models find short-term applications in image denoising, super-resolution imaging, structured prediction, and pre-training when labeled data is scarce.
  • Long-Term Potential: As generative models mature, they could develop a fundamental understanding of the world, access previously unavailable data, and become versatile tools for consumers and businesses.

Connected AI Concepts


Generalized AI consists of devices or systems that can handle all sorts of tasks on their own. The extension of generalized AI eventually led to the development of Machine learning. As an extension to AI, Machine Learning (ML) analyzes a series of computer algorithms to create a program that automates actions. Without explicitly programming actions, systems can learn and improve the overall experience. It explores large sets of data to find common patterns and formulate analytical models through learning.

Deep Learning vs. Machine Learning

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence where algorithms parse data, learn from experience, and make better decisions in the future. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning where numerous algorithms are structured into layers to create artificial neural networks (ANNs). These networks can solve complex problems and allow the machine to train itself to perform a task.


DevOps refers to a series of practices performed to perform automated software development processes. It is a conjugation of the term “development” and “operations” to emphasize how functions integrate across IT teams. DevOps strategies promote seamless building, testing, and deployment of products. It aims to bridge a gap between development and operations teams to streamline the development altogether.


AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence to IT operations. It has become particularly useful for modern IT management in hybridized, distributed, and dynamic environments. AIOps has become a key operational component of modern digital-based organizations, built around software and algorithms.

Machine Learning Ops

Machine Learning Ops (MLOps) describes a suite of best practices that successfully help a business run artificial intelligence. It consists of the skills, workflows, and processes to create, run, and maintain machine learning models to help various operational processes within organizations.

OpenAI Organizational Structure

OpenAI is an artificial intelligence research laboratory that transitioned into a for-profit organization in 2019. The corporate structure is organized around two entities: OpenAI, Inc., which is a single-member Delaware LLC controlled by OpenAI non-profit, And OpenAI LP, which is a capped, for-profit organization. The OpenAI LP is governed by the board of OpenAI, Inc (the foundation), which acts as a General Partner. At the same time, Limited Partners comprise employees of the LP, some of the board members, and other investors like Reid Hoffman’s charitable foundation, Khosla Ventures, and Microsoft, the leading investor in the LP.

OpenAI Business Model

OpenAI has built the foundational layer of the AI industry. With large generative models like GPT-3 and DALL-E, OpenAI offers API access to businesses that want to develop applications on top of its foundational models while being able to plug these models into their products and customize these models with proprietary data and additional AI features. On the other hand, OpenAI also released ChatGPT, developing around a freemium model. Microsoft also commercializes opener products through its commercial partnership.


OpenAI and Microsoft partnered up from a commercial standpoint. The history of the partnership started in 2016 and consolidated in 2019, with Microsoft investing a billion dollars into the partnership. It’s now taking a leap forward, with Microsoft in talks to put $10 billion into this partnership. Microsoft, through OpenAI, is developing its Azure AI Supercomputer while enhancing its Azure Enterprise Platform and integrating OpenAI’s models into its business and consumer products (GitHub, Office, Bing).

Stability AI Business Model

Stability AI is the entity behind Stable Diffusion. Stability makes money from our AI products and from providing AI consulting services to businesses. Stability AI monetizes Stable Diffusion via DreamStudio’s APIs. While it also releases it open-source for anyone to download and use. Stability AI also makes money via enterprise services, where its core development team offers the chance to enterprise customers to service, scale, and customize Stable Diffusion or other large generative models to their needs.

Stability AI Ecosystem


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