Exploring Safety Generalization Challenges of Large Language Models via Code


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The rapid advancement of Large Language Models (LLMs) has brought about remarkable capabilities in natural language processing but also raised concerns about their potential misuse. While strategies like supervised fine-tuning and reinforcement learning from human feedback have enhanced their safety, these methods primarily focus on natural languages, which may not generalize to other domains. This paper introduces CodeAttack, a framework that transforms natural language inputs into code inputs, presenting a novel environment for testing the safety generalization of LLMs. Our comprehensive studies on state-of-the-art LLMs including GPT-4, Claude-2, and Llama-2 series reveal a common safety vulnerability of these models against code input: CodeAttack consistently bypasses the safety guardrails of all models more than 80 time. Furthermore, we find that a larger distribution gap between CodeAttack and natural language leads to weaker safety generalization, such as encoding natural language input with data structures or using less popular programming languages. These findings highlight new safety risks in the code domain and the need for more robust safety alignment algorithms to match the code capabilities of LLMs.
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