How The ChatGPT Watermark Functions And Why It Could Be Defeated

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OpenAI’s ChatGPT presented a method to instantly produce content however plans to present a watermarking function to make it simple to detect are making some people nervous. This is how ChatGPT watermarking works and why there may be a way to beat it.

ChatGPT is an amazing tool that online publishers, affiliates and SEOs simultaneously love and fear.

Some marketers enjoy it because they’re discovering new ways to utilize it to generate content briefs, details and complicated articles.

Online publishers hesitate of the possibility of AI content flooding the search results, supplanting expert articles written by human beings.

Consequently, news of a watermarking function that opens detection of ChatGPT-authored content is similarly anticipated with anxiety and hope.

Cryptographic Watermark

A watermark is a semi-transparent mark (a logo or text) that is embedded onto an image. The watermark signals who is the initial author of the work.

It’s mainly seen in photos and progressively in videos.

Watermarking text in ChatGPT includes cryptography in the type of embedding a pattern of words, letters and punctiation in the kind of a secret code.

Scott Aaronson and ChatGPT Watermarking

A prominent computer scientist named Scott Aaronson was employed by OpenAI in June 2022 to work on AI Safety and Alignment.

AI Security is a research field interested in studying ways that AI may pose a damage to human beings and producing methods to avoid that type of negative disruption.

The Distill scientific journal, including authors affiliated with OpenAI, specifies AI Safety like this:

“The objective of long-term artificial intelligence (AI) safety is to make sure that innovative AI systems are reliably lined up with human worths– that they dependably do things that people desire them to do.”

AI Alignment is the artificial intelligence field concerned with making certain that the AI is lined up with the desired objectives.

A large language model (LLM) like ChatGPT can be utilized in a way that may go contrary to the goals of AI Alignment as defined by OpenAI, which is to produce AI that advantages humanity.

Appropriately, the reason for watermarking is to prevent the abuse of AI in such a way that damages humanity.

Aaronson explained the factor for watermarking ChatGPT output:

“This could be valuable for avoiding academic plagiarism, undoubtedly, but likewise, for example, mass generation of propaganda …”

How Does ChatGPT Watermarking Work?

ChatGPT watermarking is a system that embeds an analytical pattern, a code, into the options of words and even punctuation marks.

Content developed by expert system is generated with a relatively foreseeable pattern of word choice.

The words written by human beings and AI follow an analytical pattern.

Altering the pattern of the words used in created material is a method to “watermark” the text to make it simple for a system to discover if it was the product of an AI text generator.

The trick that makes AI material watermarking undetectable is that the distribution of words still have a random look comparable to normal AI created text.

This is described as a pseudorandom circulation of words.

Pseudorandomness is a statistically random series of words or numbers that are not in fact random.

ChatGPT watermarking is not presently in use. However Scott Aaronson at OpenAI is on record specifying that it is prepared.

Right now ChatGPT is in previews, which allows OpenAI to find “misalignment” through real-world usage.

Most likely watermarking might be introduced in a final variation of ChatGPT or quicker than that.

Scott Aaronson discussed how watermarking works:

“My primary job so far has actually been a tool for statistically watermarking the outputs of a text design like GPT.

Generally, whenever GPT generates some long text, we want there to be an otherwise unnoticeable secret signal in its options of words, which you can utilize to show later on that, yes, this came from GPT.”

Aaronson explained further how ChatGPT watermarking works. However initially, it’s important to comprehend the concept of tokenization.

Tokenization is an action that occurs in natural language processing where the device takes the words in a file and breaks them down into semantic systems like words and sentences.

Tokenization changes text into a structured type that can be used in machine learning.

The procedure of text generation is the device thinking which token follows based upon the previous token.

This is done with a mathematical function that figures out the likelihood of what the next token will be, what’s called a likelihood distribution.

What word is next is forecasted but it’s random.

The watermarking itself is what Aaron refers to as pseudorandom, because there’s a mathematical factor for a particular word or punctuation mark to be there but it is still statistically random.

Here is the technical explanation of GPT watermarking:

“For GPT, every input and output is a string of tokens, which might be words but also punctuation marks, parts of words, or more– there have to do with 100,000 tokens in overall.

At its core, GPT is continuously creating a possibility distribution over the next token to produce, conditional on the string of previous tokens.

After the neural net creates the circulation, the OpenAI server then really samples a token according to that circulation– or some customized version of the distribution, depending upon a parameter called ‘temperature.’

As long as the temperature is nonzero, however, there will generally be some randomness in the option of the next token: you might run over and over with the very same timely, and get a different conclusion (i.e., string of output tokens) each time.

So then to watermark, instead of selecting the next token randomly, the concept will be to choose it pseudorandomly, using a cryptographic pseudorandom function, whose key is known only to OpenAI.”

The watermark looks completely natural to those reading the text due to the fact that the choice of words is mimicking the randomness of all the other words.

But that randomness contains a predisposition that can just be discovered by somebody with the secret to translate it.

This is the technical explanation:

“To illustrate, in the diplomatic immunity that GPT had a lot of possible tokens that it judged similarly probable, you might simply pick whichever token taken full advantage of g. The option would look evenly random to somebody who didn’t know the secret, but someone who did know the key could later sum g over all n-grams and see that it was anomalously big.”

Watermarking is a Privacy-first Option

I’ve seen discussions on social media where some individuals recommended that OpenAI might keep a record of every output it generates and use that for detection.

Scott Aaronson confirms that OpenAI could do that but that doing so postures a privacy issue. The possible exception is for law enforcement situation, which he didn’t elaborate on.

How to Spot ChatGPT or GPT Watermarking

Something intriguing that seems to not be well known yet is that Scott Aaronson noted that there is a method to beat the watermarking.

He didn’t state it’s possible to beat the watermarking, he stated that it can be defeated.

“Now, this can all be defeated with adequate effort.

For example, if you utilized another AI to paraphrase GPT’s output– well alright, we’re not going to be able to spot that.”

It looks like the watermarking can be defeated, at least in from November when the above declarations were made.

There is no indicator that the watermarking is currently in usage. But when it does enter use, it might be unknown if this loophole was closed.


Read Scott Aaronson’s article here.

Included image by SMM Panel/RealPeopleStudio