How The ChatGPT Watermark Functions And Why It Could Be Defeated

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OpenAI’s ChatGPT introduced a method to instantly produce content but prepares to introduce a watermarking feature to make it easy to identify 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 at the same time like and fear.

Some online marketers like it due to the fact that they’re finding new methods to utilize it to create material briefs, lays out and complex short articles.

Online publishers hesitate of the prospect of AI material flooding the search results page, supplanting expert articles written by people.

Consequently, news of a watermarking feature that unlocks detection of ChatGPT-authored content is similarly prepared for with anxiety and hope.

Cryptographic Watermark

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

It’s mostly seen in pictures and significantly in videos.

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

Scott Aaronson and ChatGPT Watermarking

A prominent computer system researcher named Scott Aaronson was employed by OpenAI in June 2022 to deal with AI Safety and Positioning.

AI Security is a research study field interested in studying ways that AI may pose a damage to humans and developing methods to prevent that kind of unfavorable disruption.

The Distill clinical journal, featuring authors associated with OpenAI, defines AI Security like this:

“The goal of long-term expert system (AI) safety is to make sure that innovative AI systems are reliably lined up with human worths– that they dependably do things that individuals want them to do.”

AI Alignment is the artificial intelligence field interested in making certain that the AI is lined up with the intended objectives.

A big language design (LLM) like ChatGPT can be used in such a way that might go contrary to the goals of AI Positioning as specified by OpenAI, which is to create AI that advantages humanity.

Accordingly, the factor for watermarking is to avoid the misuse of AI in such a way that damages mankind.

Aaronson explained the factor for watermarking ChatGPT output:

“This could be handy for avoiding scholastic plagiarism, undoubtedly, but also, for instance, mass generation of propaganda …”

How Does ChatGPT Watermarking Work?

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

Content produced by expert system is generated with a fairly predictable pattern of word choice.

The words composed by people and AI follow a statistical pattern.

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

The trick that makes AI content watermarking undetectable is that the distribution of words still have a random appearance similar to regular AI produced text.

This is described as a pseudorandom circulation of words.

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

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

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

Presumably watermarking may be presented in a last variation of ChatGPT or earlier than that.

Scott Aaronson wrote about how watermarking works:

“My main project so far has been a tool for statistically watermarking the outputs of a text design like GPT.

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

Aaronson explained further how ChatGPT watermarking works. But initially, it is essential to understand the concept of tokenization.

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

Tokenization modifications text into a structured form that can be utilized in machine learning.

The process of text generation is the machine guessing which token follows based on the previous token.

This is made with a mathematical function that identifies the possibility of what the next token will be, what’s called a possibility circulation.

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

The watermarking itself is what Aaron describes as pseudorandom, in that there’s a mathematical reason for a particular word or punctuation mark to be there however 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 however likewise punctuation marks, parts of words, or more– there are about 100,000 tokens in total.

At its core, GPT is continuously generating a probability circulation over the next token to generate, conditional on the string of previous tokens.

After the neural net creates the distribution, the OpenAI server then actually samples a token according to that circulation– or some modified version of the circulation, depending on a specification called ‘temperature level.’

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

So then to watermark, rather of selecting the next token arbitrarily, the idea will be to choose it pseudorandomly, using a cryptographic pseudorandom function, whose secret is understood just to OpenAI.”

The watermark looks completely natural to those reading the text because the option of words is mimicking the randomness of all the other words.

But that randomness contains a bias that can only be found by someone with the key to decipher it.

This is the technical explanation:

“To highlight, in the diplomatic immunity that GPT had a lot of possible tokens that it evaluated similarly possible, you could merely choose whichever token taken full advantage of g. The choice would look consistently random to somebody who didn’t know the secret, however somebody who did understand the key might later sum g over all n-grams and see that it was anomalously big.”

Watermarking is a Privacy-first Solution

I have actually seen discussions on social media where some people suggested that OpenAI might keep a record of every output it generates and utilize that for detection.

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

How to Spot ChatGPT or GPT Watermarking

Something interesting that seems to not be well known yet is that Scott Aaronson kept in mind that there is a method to defeat the watermarking.

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

“Now, this can all be beat with enough effort.

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

It appears like the watermarking can be beat, at least in from November when the above statements were made.

There is no sign that the watermarking is currently in usage. But when it does come into usage, it may be unknown if this loophole was closed.


Check out Scott Aaronson’s blog post here.

Included image by SMM Panel/RealPeopleStudio