Biologically Inspired Mechanisms for Adversarial Robustness

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Manish Reddy Vuyyuru, Andrzej Banburski, Nishka Pant, Tomaso Poggio


A convolutional neural network strongly robust to adversarial perturbations at reasonable computational and performance cost has not yet been demonstrated. The primate visual ventral stream seems to be robust to small perturbations in visual stimuli but the underlying mechanisms that give rise to this robust perception are not understood. In this work, we investigate the role of two biologically plausible mechanisms in adversarial robustness. We demonstrate that the non-uniform sampling performed by the primate retina and the presence of multiple receptive fields with a range of receptive field sizes at each eccentricity improve the robustness of neural networks to small adversarial perturbations. We verify that these two mechanisms do not suffer from gradient obfuscation and study their contribution to adversarial robustness through ablation studies.