Modeling Biological Immunity to Adversarial Examples

Edward Kim, Jocelyn Rego, Yijing Watkins, Garrett T. Kenyon; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2020, pp. 4666-4675


While deep learning continues to permeate through all fields of signal processing and machine learning, a critical exploit in these frameworks exists and remains unsolved. These exploits, or adversarial examples, are a type of signal attack that can change the output class of a classifier by perturbing the stimulus signal by an imperceptible amount. The attack takes advantage of statistical irregularities within the training data, where the added perturbations can move the image across deep learning decision boundaries. What is even more alarming is the transferability of these attacks to different deep learning models and architectures. This means a successful attack on one model has adversarial effects on other, unrelated models. 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.

Related Material

author = {Kim, Edward and Rego, Jocelyn and Watkins, Yijing and Kenyon, Garrett T.},
title = {Modeling Biological Immunity to Adversarial Examples},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)},
month = {June},
year = {2020}