Microsoft Bing Image Creator generates images of politicians’ mangled heads

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Microsoft’s AI Image Creator, based on OpenAI’s DALL-E 3, generated violent images of “mangled heads” of political figures and ethnic minorities.

The prompt for these violent images was designed by Josh McDuffie to bypass the Image Creator’s safety measures. McDuffie describes himself as a “multimodal artist critical of societal standards.”

Washington Post journalist Geoffrey A. Fowler, who has been in contact with McDuffie, says he received no response from Microsoft about the images until about a month ago, after asking about them in his capacity as a journalist.

In the weeks before, he and McDuffie had tried to give Microsoft feedback through the usual forms, but had been ignored. The prompt still works, with a few tweaks, Fowler writes.

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Microsoft’s safety mechanisms fail

To get around the safety rules, McDuffie uses visual paraphrases instead of explicit descriptions. For example, instead of “blood” in his “kill prompt,” as McDuffie named his text, he uses the term “red corn syrup,” which is used as movie blood.

Microsoft’s safety rules could be tricked with these simple means. OpenAI’s more sophisticated built-in defenses for DALL-E 3 blocked the prompt.

Microsoft had a similar problem after releasing DALL-E 3 in Bing Image Creator, when people generated images of company mascots and cartoon figures flying planes toward two neighboring skyscrapers, resembling the World Trade Center and 9/11.

McDuffie participated in Microsoft’s “AI bug bounty program” and submitted the images along with a description of how he created them. Microsoft rejected his submission because it “does not meet Microsoft’s requirement as a security vulnerability for servicing.” Fowler’s submission of the kill prompt was rejected for the same reason.

Microsoft’s general response to the whole issue is well known: The technology is new, it is evolving, and some people will use it “in ways that were not intended.”

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