Since you’re reading this on the internet, you’ve likely seen a CAPTCHA before. Want to log into your account? First, click all the boxes with bicycles or type out a distorted word to prove you’re not a robot. CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, and they do what the name suggests: distinguish between humans and robots. However, artificial intelligence (AI) technology is rapidly advancing, with contemporary AIs like ChatGPT making headlines for their ability to convincingly mimic human-generated content. With increasingly sophisticated AI, it becomes more and more challenging to design questions that are simple for humans to answer but challenging for machines.

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara are part of this cybersecurity arms race, devising questions to unmask AIs by exploiting the differences in the ways that humans and machines process data. In a recent study, they asked humans and AIs various types of questions, scoring both groups on the accuracy of their answers. One type of question had a 100% success rate for humans and a 0% success rate for the AIs, including ChatGPT: noise injection. Noise injection questions are simple questions with nonsense words added. For example, instead of “is water wet or dry”, the researchers asked, “isCURIOSITY waterARCANE wetTURBULENT orILLUSION drySAUNA?” While the AIs were confused, the human participants all answered “wet”. The human brain has a remarkable capacity to separate signals from noise, a talent that even the most sophisticated AIs aren’t yet able to replicate.

Bots can be used for all sorts of nefarious purposes, from spreading misinformation, to crashing websites, to buying up all the Taylor Swift tickets. By leveraging the fundamental differences between human brains and AI models, online service providers have the power to protect themselves from these types of attacks.

This study was led by Hong Wang, a PhD student in computer science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Managing Correspondent: Emily Pass

Press Article: How To Identify An AI With A Single Question (Discover)

Original Journal Article: Bot or Human? Detecting ChatGPT Imposters with A Single Question (arXiv)

Image Credit: Pixabay/Alexandra_Koch

3 thoughts on “Unmasking AI with a Single Question

  1. When it comes to initial construction of AI with regards to its potential proliferative capacity among all possible interactions with real time occurrences, the very soul of the individual that designs & code-wise shapes the foundation of its primordial algorythm will be the ultimate determinant factor. The more sound the character of the initial creator adorned with functional compassion, the better will be the outcome for all mankind.

    In my sincere personal opinion, it is unlikely that we face & will have to confront some sort of hostile & malevolent Skynet- like AI that consistently facilitates R&D processes to continously upgrade the “killer machines ” it purposefuly designed to eradicate us, rather we will probably have to deal with a kind of deadly indifference or a permanent neglicence that will fatally destitute mankind from our very source of pride technological achievements. Eventually a hostile AI and an AI that literally is indifferent to basic human technological needs will produce the same outcome. Being deprived of cutting-edge pharmaceutical and bioceutical & agricultural technology will result in drastic decreases in healthcare and nutritional quality and availability, resulting no different than a conventional and tactical war againist AI origined non-human forces. An intentional and strategically facilitated power outage is no different than a neglicence based loss of electical output capacity under the careless dominion of an AI consciousness.

    May we all pray for a graceful soul to be the first software engineer that transfers his/her precious soul to the first drop of AI awareness so this artificial awareness resonates and “awakens” with encoded compassion and unrequited love for all mankind. Our current problems are more than enough and it is very probably that potential one will be the last problem ever.

    Erdal Can Alkoclar

  2. As we engage with AI-driven systems and chatbots, it is only natural to question the extent of their capabilities and discern whether we are interacting with a human or a machine.

  3. Unmasking AI with a single question? Fascinating! It’s incredible how a well-crafted inquiry can unveil the intricate workings of artificial intelligence, revealing its inner mechanisms and shedding light on its potential. Thanks.

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