Predict Responsibly: Increasing Fairness by Learning to Defer

David Madras, Toniann Pitassi, Richard Zemel

Feb 12, 2018 (modified: Feb 15, 2018) ICLR 2018 Workshop Submission readers: everyone Show Bibtex
  • Abstract: When machine learning models are used for high-stakes decisions, they should predict accurately, fairly, and responsibly. To fulfill these three requirements, a model must be able to output a reject option (i.e. say "``I Don't Know") when it is not qualified to make a prediction. In this work, we propose learning to defer, a method by which a model can defer judgment to a downstream decision-maker such as a human user. We show that learning to defer generalizes the rejection learning framework in two ways: by considering the effect of other agents in the decision-making process, and by allowing for optimization of complex objectives. We propose a learning algorithm which accounts for potential biases held by decision-makerslater in a pipeline. Experiments on real-world datasets demonstrate that learning to defer can make a model not only more accurate but also less biased. Even when operated by highly biased users, we show that deferring models can still greatly improve the fairness of the entire pipeline.
  • TL;DR: Incorporating the ability to say I-don't-know can improve the fairness of a classifier without sacrificing too much accuracy, and this improvement magnifies when the classifier has insight into downstream decision-making.
  • Keywords: Fairness, IDK, Calibration, Automated decision-making, Transparency, Accountability