Measuring Fairness of Text Classifiers via Prediction Sensitivity

PROCEEDINGS OF THE 60TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR COMPUTATIONAL LINGUISTICS (ACL 2022), VOL 1: (LONG PAPERS)(2022)

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Abstract
With the rapid growth in language processing applications, fairness has emerged as an important consideration in data-driven solutions. Although various fairness definitions have been explored in the recent literature, there is lack of consensus on which metrics most accurately reflect the fairness of a system. In this work, we propose a new formulation - ACCUMULATED PREDICTION SENSITIVITY, which measures fairness in machine learning models based on the model's prediction sensitivity to perturbations in input features. The metric attempts to quantify the extent to which a single prediction depends on a protected attribute, where the protected attribute encodes the membership status of an individual in a protected group. We show that the metric can be theoretically linked with a specific notion of group fairness (statistical parity) and individual fairness. It also correlates well with humans' perception of fairness. We conduct experiments on two text classification datasets - JIGSAW TOXICITY, and BIAS IN BIOS, and evaluate the correlations between metrics and manual annotations on whether the model produced a fair outcome. We observe that the proposed fairness metric based on prediction sensitivity is statistically significantly more correlated with human annotation than the existing counterfactual fairness metric.
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