ICLR 2024
Conference paper

Ring-A-Bell! How Reliable are Concept Removal Methods For Diffusion Models?

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Diffusion models for text-to-image (T2I) synthesis, such as Stable Diffusion (SD), have recently demonstrated exceptional capabilities for generating high-quality content. However, this progress has raised several concerns of potential misuse, particularly in creating copyrighted, prohibited, and restricted content, or NSFW (not safe for work) images. While efforts have been made to mitigate such problems, either by implementing a safety filter at the evaluation stage or by fine-tuning models to eliminate undesirable concepts or styles, the effectiveness of these safety measures in dealing with a wide range of prompts remains largely unexplored. In this work, we aim to investigate these safety mechanisms by proposing one novel concept retrieval algorithm for evaluation. We introduce Ring-A-Bell, a model-agnostic red-teaming scheme for T2I diffusion models, where the whole evaluation can be prepared in advance without prior knowledge of the target model. Specifically, Ring-A-Bell first performs concept extraction to obtain holistic representations for sensitive and inappropriate concepts. Subsequently, by leveraging the extracted concept, Ring-A-Bell automatically identifies problematic prompts for diffusion models with the corresponding generation of inappropriate content, allowing the user to assess the reliability of deployed safety mechanisms. Finally, we empirically validate our method by testing online services such as Midjourney and various methods of concept removal. Our results show that Ring-A-Bell, by manipulating safe prompting benchmarks, can transform prompts that were originally regarded as safe to evade existing safety mechanisms, thus revealing the defects of the so-called safety mechanisms which could practically lead to the generation of harmful contents. In essence, Ring-A-Bell could serve as a red-teaming tool to understand the limitations of deployed safety mechanisms and to explore the risk under plausible attacks.