Adversarial Examples for Natural Language Classification Problems

Modern machine learning algorithms are often susceptible to adversarial examples — maliciously crafted inputs that are undetectable by humans but that fool the algorithm into producing undesirable behavior. In this work, we show that adversarial examples exist in natural language classification: we formalize the notion of an adversarial example in this setting and describe algorithms that construct such examples... Adversarial perturbations can be crafted for a wide range of tasks — including spam filtering, fake news detection, and sentiment analysis — and affect different models — convolutional and recurrent neural networks as well as linear classifiers to a lesser degree. Constructing an adversarial example involves replacing 10-30% of words in a sentence with synonyms that don’t change its meaning. Up to 90% of input examples admit adversarial perturbations; furthermore, these perturbations retain a degree of transferability across models. Our findings demonstrate the existence of vulnerabilities in machine learning systems and hint at limitations in our understanding of classification algorithms. read more

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