ELI5: Explain Like I'm 5

Foundation models

Foundation models are like the backbone of big computer programs that try to do things like talk or understand what people say. Think of them like the base of a big pyramid that holds everything else up.

Imagine you're building a castle out of blocks, and you start by making a big square base. Without that base, your castle wouldn't be very strong and could fall over if someone sneezed on it. Foundation models work the same way for computer programs.

These foundation models are built by teaching computers lots and lots of data. Imagine that you're learning how to count to 10. First, someone shows you one thing and tells you it's "one." Then they show you another thing and tell you it's "two." Gradually, you learn how to count up to 10 by looking at more and more examples.

Computers learn in the same way. They are fed massive amounts of data to help them learn how to do things like understand language or recognize objects. Once they have learned this basic information, they can use it to help them do more complicated tasks.

So, just like the base of a pyramid holds up all the layers above it, foundation models hold up all the other parts of a big computer program. They make it strong and reliable so it can do all sorts of cool things.