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Everybody Needs Good Neighbours: An Unsupervised Locality-based Method for Bias Mitigation

Xudong Han · Timothy Baldwin · Trevor Cohn

MH1-2-3-4 #155

Keywords: [ Social Aspects of Machine Learning ]


Learning models from human behavioural data often leads to outputs that are biased with respect to user demographics, such as gender or race. This effect can be controlled by explicit mitigation methods, but this typically presupposes access to demographically-labelled training data. Such data is often not available, motivating the need for unsupervised debiasing methods. To this end, we propose a new meta-algorithm for debiasing representation learning models, which combines the notions of data locality and accuracy of model fit, such that a supervised debiasing method can optimise fairness between neighbourhoods of poorly vs. well modelled instances as identified by our method. Results over five datasets, spanning natural language processing and structured data classification tasks, show that our technique recovers proxy labels that correlate with unknown demographic data, and that our method outperforms all unsupervised baselines, while also achieving competitive performance with state-of-the-art supervised methods which are given access to demographic labels.

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