Detecting Discrimination Risk in Automated Decision-Making Systems with Balance Measures on Input Data

In: First International Workshop on Data Science for equality, inclusion and well-being challenges (DS4EIW 2021)
Mecati M., Vetrò A., Torchiano M.
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15-18 Dec. 2021

2021 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (IEEE BigData 2021)
First International Workshop on Data Science for equality, inclusion and well-being challenges (DS4EIW 2021)

Bias in the data used to train decision-making systems is a relevant socio-technical issue that emerged in recent years, and it still lacks a commonly accepted solution. Indeed, the ``bias in-bias out'' problem represents one of the most significant risks of discrimination, which encompasses technical fields, as well as ethical and social perspectives. We contribute to the current studies of the issue by proposing a data quality measurement approach combined with risk management, both defined in ISO/IEC standards. For this purpose, we investigate imbalance in a given dataset as a potential risk factor for detecting discrimination in the classification outcome: specifically, we aim to evaluate whether it is possible to identify the risk of bias in a classification output by measuring the level of (im)balance in the input data. We select four balance measures (the Gini, Shannon, Simpson, and Imbalance ratio indexes) and we test their capability to identify discriminatory classification outputs by applying such measures to protected attributes in the training set. The results of this analysis show that the proposed approach is suitable for the goal highlighted above: the balance measures properly detect unfairness of software output, even though the choice of the index has a relevant impact on the detection of discriminatory outcomes, therefore further work is required to test more in-depth the reliability of the balance measures as risk indicators. We believe that our approach for assessing the risk of discrimination should encourage to take more conscious and appropriate actions, as well as to prevent adverse effects caused by the ``bias in-bias out" problem.

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