While it can be dangerous to anthropomorphize LLMs too much, as we don’t want to end up like in the movie Her, LLMs might have more similarities with us than we think.
In working with LLMs, there is a powerful technique called “chain-of-thought prompting”. The idea is, that instead of telling the LLM to do something for us, we give it an objective and “talk out loud”, how it would go about reasoning about it. It breaks things down to smaller steps which are a chain of logical steps it follows. It turns out, that when prompting an LLM with this technique, the reasoning capabilities are improving. Just using this technique, researchers were able to reach state-of-the-art performance with LLMs in various assessments in arithmetic, commensense and symbolic reasoning tasks. In different words - we’re forcing the LLM to use more tokens to “think”. It’s in a sense speaking out loud while trying to solve a task.
And the same approach works for us humans. There are several approaches where using more words to describe something helps us to think:
Journaling helps us to deal with difficult emotions, but also clarify our thinking
Rubber Duck Debugging is a technique used in software development, where you describe a problem to a rubber duck, and just by speaking it out loud, you enable yourself to get distance from the problem and break it down to its essential parts to be able to solve it
Psychotherapy — any form of cognitive therapy involves the patient talking a lot, which helps to uncover trauma, hidden thought patterns, and get perspective
Just talking to friends can be very powerful, and hearing back from them what they think - stating the situation from a different view
Quoting Paul Graham:
Once you publish something, the convention is that whatever you wrote was what you thought before you wrote it. These were your ideas, and now you've expressed them. But you know this isn't true. You know that putting your ideas into words changed them. And not just the ideas you published. Presumably there were others that turned out to be too broken to fix, and those you discarded instead.
Talking thoughts out loud can be a powerful tool, not just to increase our reasoning power, but also the ones of LLMs.