Modeling Biological Immunity to Adversarial Examples

Published in IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, CVPR, 2020

In a general sense, adversarial attack through perturbations is not a machine learning vulnerability. Human and biological vision can also be fooled by various methods, i.e. mixing high and low frequency images together, by altering semantically related signals, or by sufficiently distorting the input signal. However, the amount and magnitude of such a distortion required to alter biological perception is at a much larger scale. In this work, we explored this gap through the lens of biology and neuroscience in order to understand the robustness exhibited in human perception. Our experiments show that by leveraging sparsity and modeling the biological mechanisms at a cellular level, we are able to mitigate the effect of adversarial alterations to the signal that have no perceptible meaning. Furthermore, we present and illustrate the effects of top-down functional processes that contribute to the inherent immunity in human perception in the context of exploiting these properties to make a more robust machine vision system.

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