Diagnosing failures of fairness transfer across distribution shift in real-world medical settingsDownload PDF

Published: 31 Oct 2022, 18:00, Last Modified: 14 Dec 2022, 09:56NeurIPS 2022 AcceptReaders: Everyone
Keywords: Healthcare, fairness, robustness, deep learning
TL;DR: We propose a testing strategy to understand the nature of distribution shifts in reald-world medical applications, which can help provide robustly fair models.
Abstract: Diagnosing and mitigating changes in model fairness under distribution shift is an important component of the safe deployment of machine learning in healthcare settings. Importantly, the success of any mitigation strategy strongly depends on the \textit{structure} of the shift. Despite this, there has been little discussion of how to empirically assess the structure of a distribution shift that one is encountering in practice. In this work, we adopt a causal framing to motivate conditional independence tests as a key tool for characterizing distribution shifts. Using our approach in two medical applications, we show that this knowledge can help diagnose failures of fairness transfer, including cases where real-world shifts are more complex than is often assumed in the literature. Based on these results, we discuss potential remedies at each step of the machine learning pipeline.
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