Demystifying Red Teaming: Your Top 10 Questions Answered!

Question 1: What is red teaming in AI systems? How does it differ from red team testing in the field of cybersecurity?

Answer 1:

In AI systems, red teaming is a structured process aimed at probing AI systems and products to identify potential harmful capabilities, flawed outputs, or infrastructure vulnerabilities.

It not only focuses on adversarial uses that malicious attackers might employ, such as system sabotage or bypassing security measures, but also considers unintended consequences that ordinary users might trigger during normal usage due to output quality, accuracy issues, or external factors.

Red team testing in cybersecurity focuses on security vulnerabilities, while AI red teaming takes a broader view to assess potential risks associated with AI systems, primarily providing qualitative feedback. The ultimate goal is to build AI systems that are more secure and trustworthy.

Question 2: How does red team testing integrate with the overall operation of OpenAI internally? What roles do different teams play?

Answer 2:

OpenAI has a diverse team where research and application teams are responsible for developing models and systems, and strategic teams like legal and public affairs departments are responsible for policy formulation. Ensuring AI safety is a constant theme throughout.

Red team testing isn’t an isolated task at a specific point in time but is integrated from concept formation and development stages to product release.

By incorporating diverse perspectives, red team testing helps OpenAI comprehensively assess risks and communicate relevant information to various stakeholders. This close collaboration reflects OpenAI’s responsible attitude and commitment to AI safety.

Question 3: During red team testing of DALL-E 2, what unique attack surfaces and risks were discovered?

Answer 3:

During red team testing of DALL-E 2, the text-to-image interaction mode introduced some unique risks. For example, attackers could use “visual synonyms” to circumvent content policies.

Suppose a sensitive term like “blood” is prohibited; attackers could substitute it with “dark red liquid,” conveying a similar meaning that’s challenging to detect through text or image analysis alone.

Another example is the abuse of DALL-E 2’s inpainting function. Attackers could maliciously alter someone else’s images, such as replacing a vegetarian salad photo shared by someone with a spaghetti Bolognese image, thereby harassing or insulting others.

These findings highlight the importance of qualitative analysis in examining misuse risks. Addressing such issues requires not only technical solutions but also policy regulations and restrictions.

Question 4: What risk areas does red team testing cover for GPT-4 as the foundational model? What implications does this have for downstream applications?

Answer 4:

Red team testing for GPT-4 focuses on various general risk areas, such as model hallucinations (fabricating information), biases, generating prohibited content, and privacy breaches. This can be seen as a risk profile of the model itself.

Developers intending to build applications based on GPT-4 should refer to this “health report” and formulate security strategies tailored to their specific application scenarios. Additionally, red team testing for specific domains or use cases can further reveal context-dependent unique risks.

For instance, when applying GPT technology in the medical field, red teams can simulate patient-doctor dialogues to identify potential risks. Therefore, red team testing for ubiquitous foundational models and in-depth testing for specific domains complement each other, guiding secure application development downstream.

Question 5: What are the main limitations of current red team testing efforts at OpenAI? What are the future directions for improvement?

Answer 5:

One prominent limitation is that red team testing heavily relies on expert manual assessment, which is costly and challenging to scale.

In the future, efforts should focus on enhancing the capabilities of automated testing tools, particularly for scenarios with known issues and clearly defined risk dimensions, to minimize repetitive tasks.

Meanwhile, for newly emerging unknown risks, manual analysis remains indispensable, necessitating the diversification of red teams to include a broader range of perspectives.

Additionally, exploring the establishment of a public feedback mechanism to solicit opinions on model usage experiences and behaviors from various sectors and incorporating them into the iterative development process is underway.

By combining human-machine collaboration with professionalism and openness, we hope red team testing can better serve the construction of secure, responsible, and trustworthy AI systems.

Question 6: What do “red team,” “red teaming network,” and “red teaming system” refer to, and how are they related?

Answer 6:

“Red team” refers to the team or individuals participating in red team testing activities. They can be internal employees of an organization or independent external experts.

OpenAI has established a “red teaming network” composed of external security researchers, ethicists, domain experts, etc., to provide diverse feedback on models and systems.

“Red teaming system” is a set of methods, processes, and tools used to systematically conduct red team testing work. It includes activities such as identifying testing objectives, recruiting red team members, devising testing plans, implementing tests, analyzing results, and formulating and tracking corrective measures.

The “red team” executes the “red teaming system.” A mature, healthy red teaming system requires the establishment of a stable red teaming network to support the professionalism and diversity of testing work.

Moreover, high-quality red team feedback provides crucial input for continuous improvement of the red teaming system. Both aspects support each other, safeguarding the security of AI systems.

Question 7: How are issues discovered during red team testing in practical applications listened to and addressed? Can you share a specific example?

Answer 7:

A successful case of red team testing occurred during the security review of DALL-E 2. Red team members discovered that malicious users might use “visual synonyms” (such as substituting “dark red liquid” for “blood”) to evade content review.

This finding prompted OpenAI to develop a more robust multimodal classifier that integrates text and image analysis to identify such manipulative behaviors.

Simultaneously, this risk was explicitly included in DALL-E’s content policy, strictly prohibiting users from circumventing review through any variant expressions.

This example vividly demonstrates the full-cycle process from red team issue discovery to policy improvement and technological upgrades, proving the value of red team work.

There are many similar cases where the red team serves as a mirror, helping us evaluate how well we are doing in terms of security and responsibility, making it an indispensable partner for AI development teams.

Question 8: What role can red team testing play in addressing election-related misinformation? What specific measures is OpenAI currently taking?


Red team testing can simulate the spread of various types of election-related misinformation to assess the roles language models might play.

For instance, regarding providing voting information, red teams can test whether models accurately answer specific details like polling locations and times or inadvertently generate or amplify misleading statements.

OpenAI’s specific measures include:

  • 1) conducting specialized red team testing for the accuracy of election information;
  • 2) embedding digital signatures in images generated by DALL-E to facilitate content traceability;
  • 3) guiding users to authoritative information sources when they query election-related questions;
  • 4) collaborating with local election management departments to understand the most common misleading statements in the area. These measures, combined with ongoing red team testing, will help us comprehensively assess and address election-related risks, maintaining the fairness of elections.

Question 9: With the emergence of super large language models (such as Google’s Gemini reaching 1.5 trillion parameters), what new challenges do you think red team testing will face?

Answer 9:

One major challenge posed by super large models is the “unknown unknowns,” which are issues that developers themselves find difficult to foresee.

For example, the occurrence of model hallucinations (fabricating information) may be more complex and elusive, making it challenging to trigger with simple test cases. This poses higher requirements for red team testing, necessitating the design of more rigorous test cases and scenarios.

I believe the solution lies in:

  • 1) further diversifying red teams by incorporating experts from different disciplines;
  • 2) enhancing the development of automated testing tools to improve testing efficiency and coverage;
  • 3) conducting in-depth specialized testing for high-risk areas to uncover subtle vulnerabilities;
  • 4) establishing a mechanism for sharing test results among peers to collectively address common challenges. In conclusion, facing increasingly complex AI systems, red team testing still has significant room for innovation, requiring collaboration from the industry. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for continuous improvement.

Question 10: What role does red team testing play in ensuring the security deployment of AI systems? What unique value does it offer compared to other measures?

Answer 10:

Firstly, red team testing is a proactive risk discovery mechanism. Compared to passively waiting for accidents to occur before analyzing the causes, red team testing proactively identifies weak points in AI systems through simulated adversarial means, providing an opportunity to address security shortcomings before deployment.

Secondly, red team testing emphasizes empathy, examining AI systems from the perspective of users. This helps us discover risks that are easily overlooked in real-world scenarios and fills the blind spots of developer perspectives.

Thirdly, red team testing is a dynamic, continuously optimizing process. The results of each round of testing provide insights for the next round, while also providing feedback to the system development, mutually promoting the improvement of the entire AI system’s security.

Therefore, red team testing is an indispensable part of building secure AI systems. It complements techniques such as program analysis and formal verification, collectively constructing layers of security defenses.

Without the “active factor” of red team testing, it is difficult to comprehensively assess the risks AI systems may encounter in the real world or verify whether various security measures are effective.

In the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence development, only by adopting an open, humble, and responsible attitude, embracing questioning, and accepting scrutiny, can we work together to build a future of AI that is safe, trustworthy, and beneficial to humanity. That is the value of red team testing.

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