Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (2021)

Authors
Will Fleisher
Northeastern University
Tina Eliassi-Rad
Northeastern University
Abstract
We present RAWLSNET, a system for altering Bayesian Network (BN) models to satisfy the Rawlsian principle of fair equality of opportunity (FEO). RAWLSNET's BN models generate aspirational data distributions: data generated to reflect an ideally fair, FEO-satisfying society. FEO states that everyone with the same talent and willingness to use it should have the same chance of achieving advantageous social positions (e.g., employment), regardless of their background circumstances (e.g., socioeconomic status). Satisfying FEO requires alterations to social structures such as school assignments. Our paper describes RAWLSNET, a method which takes as input a BN representation of an FEO application and alters the BN's parameters so as to satisfy FEO when possible, and minimize deviation from FEO otherwise. We also offer guidance for applying RAWLSNET, including on recognizing proper applications of FEO. We demonstrate the use of our system with publicly available data sets. RAWLSNET's altered BNs offer the novel capability of generating aspirational data for FEO-relevant tasks. Aspirational data are free from the biases of real-world data, and thus are useful for recognizing and detecting sources of unfairness in machine learning algorithms besides biased data.
Keywords Rawlsian fair equality of opportunity  Bayesian networks  Aspirational data
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