Algorithmic Bias: From Discrimination Discovery to Fairness-Aware Data Mining
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Algorithms and decision making based on Big Data have become pervasive in all aspects of our daily lives lives (offline and online), as they have become essential tools in personal finance, health care, hiring, housing, education, and policies. It is therefore of societal and ethical importance to ask whether these algorithms can be discriminative on grounds such as gender, ethnicity, or health status. It turns out that the answer is positive: for instance, recent studies in the context of online advertising show that ads for high-income jobs are presented to men much more often than to women [Datta et al., 2015]; and ads for arrest records are significantly more likely to show up on searches for distinctively black names [Sweeney, 2013]. This algorithmic bias exists even when there is no discrimination intention in the developer of the algorithm. Sometimes it may be inherent to the data sources used (software making decisions based on data can reflect, or even amplify, the results of historical discrimination), but even when the sensitive attributes have been suppressed from the input, a well trained machine learning algorithm may still discriminate on the basis of such sensitive attributes because of correlations existing in the data. These considerations call for the development of data mining systems which are discrimination-conscious by-design. This is a novel and challenging research area for the data mining community.
The aim of this tutorial is to survey algorithmic bias, presenting its most common variants, with an emphasis on the algorithmic techniques and key ideas developed to derive efficient solutions. The tutorial covers two main complementary approaches: algorithms for discrimination discovery and discrimination prevention by means of fairness-aware data mining. We conclude by summarizing promising paths for future research.
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