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Optical Adversarial Attack Can Change the Meaning of Road Signs

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A stop sign made to appear to read "30."

Perturbations on a sign, created by shining crafted light on it, distorts how it is interpreted in a machine learning system.

Credit: Optical Adversarial Attack,

Researchers in the US have developed an adversarial attack against the ability of machine learning systems to correctly interpret what they see – including mission-critical items such as road signs – by shining patterned light onto real world objects. In one experiment, the approach succeeded in causing the meaning of a 'STOP' roadside sign to be transformed into a '30mph' speed limit sign.

The research is entitled Optical Adversarial Attack, and comes from Purdue University in Indiana.

An OPtical ADversarial attack (OPAD), as proposed by the paper, uses structured illumination to alter the appearance of target objects, and requires only a commodity projector, a camera and a computer. The researchers were able to successfully undertake both white-box and black box attacks using this technique.

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