The astonishing capability of generative AI to create visual images is getting better and more accessible, but with their models based on massive libraries of existing art, artists are frantically looking for ways to prevent their work from being harvested without their permission. A new tool, ominously named Nightshade, could be the answer.

The trick involves using optimized, prompt-specific “data poisoning attacks” that corrupt the data needed to train AI models when it’s fed into an image generator. Combatting intellectual property theft and AI deepfakes has become crucial since generative AI models came into the mainstream this year. In July, a team of researchers at MIT similarly suggested injecting small bits of code that would cause the image to distort, rendering it unusable.

As Zhao explained, Nightshade gets around the problem of an AI model’s large datasets by targeting the prompt—for example, requests to create an image of a dragon, dog, or horse. “Attacking the whole model makes no sense,” Zhao said. “What you do want to attack is individual prompts, debilitating the model and disabling it from generating art.” To avoid detection, the research team explained, the text and image within the poisoned data must be crafted to appear natural and crafted to deceive both automated alignment detectors and human inspectors to achieve the intended effect.

Even without any coordination, artists could begin implementing these poison pills en masse, and it could cause the AI model to collapse. “Once enough attacks become active on the same model, the model becomes worthless,” Zhao said. “By worthless, I mean, you give it things like ‘give me a painting,’ and it comes out with what looks like a kaleidoscope of pixels. The model is effectively dumbed down to the version of something akin to a random pixel generator.”

Zhao said Nightshade does not require any action be taken against the AI image generator itself but takes effect when the AI model attempts to consume the data that Nightshade has been included in. “It does nothing to them unless they take those images and put them into the training data,” he said, calling it less of an attack and more like self-defense or a barbed wire fence with poison tips aimed at AI developers who do not respect opt-out requests and do-not-scrape directives.

Generative AI refers to AI models that use prompts to generate text, images, music, or videos. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta have all invested heavily in bringing generative AI tools to consumers.

This is good news for artists who want to protect their work and intellectual property from being harvested without permission. Artists can now use Nightshade, a “data poisoning attack” to corrupt the data needed to train AI models when it’s fed into an image generator. This will make it much harder for AI models to generate art without the artist’s permission. #AI #GenerativeAI #DataProtection #IntellectualProperty

You can read more about this topic here: Decrypt: Artists Could Use a Poison Pill to Combat AI Exploitation

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