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Discovering Failure Modes of Text-guided Diffusion Models via Adversarial Search

Qihao Liu · Adam Kortylewski · Yutong Bai · Song Bai · Alan Yuille

Halle B #267
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Thu 9 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Text-guided diffusion models (TDMs) are widely applied but can fail unexpectedly. Common failures include: (i) natural-looking text prompts generating images with the wrong content, or (ii) different random samples of the latent variables that generate vastly different, and even unrelated, outputs despite being conditioned on the same text prompt. In this work, we aim to study and understand the failure modes of TDMs in more detail. To achieve this, we propose SAGE, the first adversarial search method on TDMs that systematically explores the discrete prompt space and the high-dimensional latent space, to automatically discover undesirable behaviors and failure cases in image generation. We use image classifiers as surrogate loss functions during searching, and employ human inspections to validate the identified failures. For the first time, our method enables efficient exploration of both the discrete and intricate human language space and the challenging latent space, overcoming the gradient vanishing problem. Then, we demonstrate the effectiveness of SAGE on five widely used generative models and reveal four typical failure modes that have not been systematically studied before: (1) We find a variety of natural text prompts that generate images failing to capture the semantics of input texts. We further discuss the underlying causes and potential solutions based on the results. (2) We find regions in the latent space that lead to distorted images independent of the text prompt, suggesting that parts of the latent space are not well-structured. (3) We also find latent samples that result in natural-looking images unrelated to the text prompt, implying a possible misalignment between the latent and prompt spaces. (4) By appending a single adversarial token embedding to any input prompts, we can generate a variety of specified target objects, with minimal impact on CLIP scores, demonstrating the fragility of language representations.

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