Big Data and Society 4 (2) (2017)

Authors
Reuben Binns
University of Southampton
Abstract
Decisions based on algorithmic, machine learning models can be unfair, reproducing biases in historical data used to train them. While computational techniques are emerging to address aspects of these concerns through communities such as discrimination-aware data mining and fairness, accountability and transparency machine learning, their practical implementation faces real-world challenges. For legal, institutional or commercial reasons, organisations might not hold the data on sensitive attributes such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality or disability needed to diagnose and mitigate emergent indirect discrimination-by-proxy, such as redlining. Such organisations might also lack the knowledge and capacity to identify and manage fairness issues that are emergent properties of complex sociotechnical systems. This paper presents and discusses three potential approaches to deal with such knowledge and information deficits in the context of fairer machine learning. Trusted third parties could selectively store data necessary for performing discrimination discovery and incorporating fairness constraints into model-building in a privacy-preserving manner. Collaborative online platforms would allow diverse organisations to record, share and access contextual and experiential knowledge to promote fairness in machine learning systems. Finally, unsupervised learning and pedagogically interpretable algorithms might allow fairness hypotheses to be built for further selective testing and exploration. Real-world fairness challenges in machine learning are not abstract, constrained optimisation problems, but are institutionally and contextually grounded. Computational fairness tools are useful, but must be researched and developed in and with the messy contexts that will shape their deployment, rather than just for imagined situations. Not doing so risks real, near-term algorithmic harm.
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DOI 10.1177/2053951717743530
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References found in this work BETA

The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation.John Danaher - 2016 - Philosophy and Technology 29 (3):245-268.
Accountability in a Computerized Society.Helen Nissenbaum - 1996 - Science and Engineering Ethics 2 (1):25-42.
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Citations of this work BETA

Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.Vincent C. Müller - 2020 - In Edward Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Palo Alto, Cal.: CSLI, Stanford University. pp. 1-70.
Democratizing Algorithmic Fairness.Pak-Hang Wong - 2020 - Philosophy and Technology 33 (2):225-244.
From Privacy to Anti-Discrimination in Times of Machine Learning.Thilo Hagendorff - 2019 - Ethics and Information Technology 21 (4):331-343.

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