Full Professor at the Department of Computer Science of Saarland University, Saarbrücken
Group Leader at Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Tübingen
Title: “Technical challenges of ethical ML”
As automated data analysis supplements and even replaces human supervision in consequential decision-making (e.g., pretrial bail and loan approval), there are growing concerns from civil organizations, governments, and researchers about potential unfairness and lack of transparency of these algorithmic systems. To address these concerns, the emerging field of ethical machine learning has focused on proposing definitions and mechanisms to ensure the fairness and explicability of the outcomes of these systems. However, as we will discuss in this talk, existing solutions are still far from being perfect and encounter significant technical challenges. Specifically, I will show that, in order for ethical ML, it is essential to have a holistic view of the system — starting from the data collection process before training, all the way to the deployment of the system in the real-world.
As an example, I will focus on my recent work on algorithmic recourse, which aim to guide individuals affected by an algorithmic decision system on how to achieve the desired outcome. In this context, I will discuss the inherent limitations of counterfactual explanations, and argue for a shift of paradigm from recourse via nearest counterfactual explanations to recourse through interventions, which directly accounts for the underlying causal structure in the data. Finally, we will then discuss the how to achieve recourse in practice when only limited causal information is available.
BIO: Isabel Valera is a full Professor at the Department of Computer Science of Saarland University, Saarbrücken (Germany) and an independent group leader at the MPI for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen (Germany). Prior to this, she has held a German Humboldt Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and a “Minerva fast track” fellowship from the Max Planck Society. She obtained my PhD in 2014 and MSc degree in 2012 from the University Carlos III in Madrid (Spain), and worked as postdoctoral researcher at the MPI for Software Systems (Germany) and at the University of Cambridge (UK). Isabel’s research focuses on developing machine learning methods that are flexible, robust, interpretable and fair.