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A Watermark for Chatbots can Expose Text Written by an AI


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“Right now, it’s the Wild West,” says John Kirchenbauer, a researcher at the University of Maryland, who was involved in the watermarking work.

Credit: Getty Images

Hidden patterns purposely buried in AI-generated texts could help identify them as such, allowing us to tell whether the words we're reading are written by a human or not.

These "watermarks" are invisible to the human eye but let computers detect that the text probably comes from an AI system. If embedded in large language models, they could help prevent some of the problems that these models have already caused.

For example, since OpenAI's chatbot ChatGPT was launched in November, students have already started cheating by using it to write essays for them. News website CNET has used ChatGPT to write articles, only to have to issue corrections amid accusations of plagiarism. Building the watermarking approach into such systems before they're released could help address such problems. 

In studies, these watermarks have already been used to identify AI-generated text with near certainty. Researchers at the University of Maryland, for example, were able to spot text created by Meta's open-source language model, OPT-6.7B, using a detection algorithm they built. The work is described in a paper that's yet to be peer-reviewed, and the code will be available for free around February 15.

From MIT Technology Review
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