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Algorithmic audits of algorithms, and the law

Feb 15, 2022
Erwan Le Merrer, Ronan Pons, Gilles Trédan

Algorithmic decision making is now widespread, ranging from health care allocation to more common actions such as recommendation or information ranking. The aim to audit these algorithms has grown alongside. In this paper, we focus on external audits that are conducted by interacting with the user side of the target algorithm, hence considered as a black box. Yet, the legal framework in which these audits take place is mostly ambiguous to researchers developing them: on the one hand, the legal value of the audit outcome is uncertain; on the other hand the auditors' rights and obligations are unclear. The contribution of this paper is to articulate two canonical audit forms to law, to shed light on these aspects: 1) the first audit form (we coin the Bobby audit form) checks a predicate against the algorithm, while the second (Sherlock) is more loose and opens up to multiple investigations. We find that: Bobby audits are more amenable to prosecution, yet are delicate as operating on real user data. This can lead to reject by a court (notion of admissibility). Sherlock audits craft data for their operation, most notably to build surrogates of the audited algorithm. It is mostly used for acts for whistleblowing, as even if accepted as a proof, the evidential value will be low in practice. 2) these two forms require the prior respect of a proper right to audit, granted by law or by the platform being audited; otherwise the auditor will be also prone to prosecutions regardless of the audit outcome. This article thus highlights the relation of current audits with law, in order to structure the growing field of algorithm auditing.


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Inclusion, equality and bias in designing online mass deliberative platforms

Jul 27, 2021
Ruth Shortall, Anatol Itten, Michiel van der Meer, Pradeep K. Murukannaiah, Catholijn M. Jonker

Designers of online deliberative platforms aim to counter the degrading quality of online debates and eliminate online discrimination based on class, race or gender. Support technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing open avenues for widening the circle of people involved in deliberation, moving from small groups to ``crowd'' scale. Some design features of large-scale online discussion systems allow larger numbers of people to discuss shared problems, enhance critical thinking, and formulate solutions. However, scaling up deliberation is challenging. We review the transdisciplinary literature on the design of digital mass-deliberation platforms and examine the commonly featured design aspects (e.g., argumentation support, automated facilitation, and gamification). We find that the literature is heavily focused on developing technical fixes for scaling up deliberation, with a heavy western influence on design and test users skew young and highly educated. Contrastingly, there is a distinct lack of discussion on the nature of the design process, the inclusion of stakeholders and issues relating to inclusion, which may unwittingly perpetuate bias. Another tendency of deliberation platforms is to nudge participants to desired forms of argumentation, and simplifying definitions of good and bad arguments to fit algorithmic purposes. Few studies bridge disciplines between deliberative theory, design and engineering. As a result, scaling up deliberation will likely advance in separate systemic siloes. We make design and process recommendations to correct this course and suggest avenues for future research.


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It's the Journey Not the Destination: Building Genetic Algorithms Practitioners Can Trust

Oct 13, 2020
Jakub Vincalek, Sean Walton, Ben Evans

Genetic algorithms have been developed for decades by researchers in academia and perform well in engineering applications, yet their uptake in industry remains limited. In order to understand why this is the case, the opinions of users of engineering design tools were gathered. The results from a survey showing the attitudes of engineers and students with design experience with respect to optimisation algorithms are presented. A survey was designed to answer two research questions: To what extent is there a pre-existing sentiment (negative or positive) among students, engineers, and managers towards genetic algorithm-based design? and What are the requirements of practitioners with regards to design optimisation and the design optimisation process? A total of 23 participants (N = 23) took part in the 3-part mixed methods survey. Thematic analysis was conducted on the open-ended questions. A common thread throughout participants responses is that there is a question of trust towards genetic algorithms within industry. Perhaps surprising is that the key to gaining this trust is not producing good results, but creating algorithms which explain the process they take in reaching a result. Participants have expressed a desire to continue to remain in the design loop. This is at odds with the motivation of a portion of the genetic algorithms community of removing humans from the loop. It is clear we need to take a different approach to increase industrial uptake. Based on this, the following recommendations have been made to increase their use in industry: an increase of transparency and explainability of genetic algorithms, an increased focus on user experience, better communication between developers and engineers, and visualising algorithm behaviour.

* 10 pages, 4 figures, submitted to IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation 

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GLEAKE: Global and Local Embedding Automatic Keyphrase Extraction

May 19, 2020
Javad Rafiei Asl, Juan M. Banda

Automated methods for granular categorization of large corpora of text documents have become increasingly more important with the rate scientific, news, medical, and web documents are growing in the last few years. Automatic keyphrase extraction (AKE) aims to automatically detect a small set of single or multi-words from within a single textual document that captures the main topics of the document. AKE plays an important role in various NLP and information retrieval tasks such as document summarization and categorization, full-text indexing, and article recommendation. Due to the lack of sufficient human-labeled data in different textual contents, supervised learning approaches are not ideal for automatic detection of keyphrases from the content of textual bodies. With the state-of-the-art advances in text embedding techniques, NLP researchers have focused on developing unsupervised methods to obtain meaningful insights from raw datasets. In this work, we introduce Global and Local Embedding Automatic Keyphrase Extractor (GLEAKE) for the task of AKE. GLEAKE utilizes single and multi-word embedding techniques to explore the syntactic and semantic aspects of the candidate phrases and then combines them into a series of embedding-based graphs. Moreover, GLEAKE applies network analysis techniques on each embedding-based graph to refine the most significant phrases as a final set of keyphrases. We demonstrate the high performance of GLEAKE by evaluating its results on five standard AKE datasets from different domains and writing styles and by showing its superiority with regards to other state-of-the-art methods.


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Orthogonal Inductive Matrix Completion

Apr 23, 2020
Antoine Ledent, Rodrigo Alves, Marius Kloft

We propose orthogonal inductive matrix completion (OMIC), an interpretable model composed of a sum of matrix completion terms, each with orthonormal side information. We can inject prior knowledge about the eigenvectors of the ground truth matrix, whilst maintaining the representation capability of the model. We present a provably converging algorithm that optimizes all components of the model simultaneously, using nuclear-norm regularisation. Our method is backed up by \textit{distribution-free} learning guarantees that improve with the quality of the injected knowledge. As a special case of our general framework, we study a model consisting of a sum of user and item biases (generic behaviour), a non-inductive term (specific behaviour), and an inductive term using side information. Our theoretical analysis shows that $\epsilon$-recovering the ground truth matrix requires at most $O\left( \frac{n+m+(\sqrt{n}+\sqrt{m})\sqrt{rmn}C}{\epsilon^2}\right)$ entries, where $r$ (resp. $C$) is the rank (resp. maximum entry) of the bias-free part of the ground truth matrix. We analyse the performance of OMIC on several synthetic and real datasets. On synthetic datasets with a sliding scale of user bias relevance, we show that OMIC better adapts to different regimes than other methods and can recover the ground truth. On real life datasets containing user/items recommendations and relevant side information, we find that OMIC surpasses the state of the art, with the added benefit of greater interpretability.


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InterBERT: Vision-and-Language Interaction for Multi-modal Pretraining

Mar 30, 2020
Junyang Lin, An Yang, Yichang Zhang, Jie Liu, Jingren Zhou, Hongxia Yang

Multi-modal pretraining for learning high-level multi-modal representation is a further step towards deep learning and artificial intelligence. In this work, we propose a novel model, namely InterBERT (BERT for Interaction), which owns strong capability of modeling interaction between the information flows of different modalities. The single-stream interaction module is capable of effectively processing information of multiple modalilties, and the two-stream module on top preserves the independence of each modality to avoid performance downgrade in single-modal tasks. We pretrain the model with three pretraining tasks, including masked segment modeling (MSM), masked region modeling (MRM) and image-text matching (ITM); and finetune the model on a series of vision-and-language downstream tasks. Experimental results demonstrate that InterBERT outperforms a series of strong baselines, including the most recent multi-modal pretraining methods, and the analysis shows that MSM and MRM are effective for pretraining and our method can achieve performances comparable to BERT in single-modal tasks. Besides, we propose a large-scale dataset for multi-modal pretraining in Chinese, and we develop the Chinese InterBERT which is the first Chinese multi-modal pretrained model. We pretrain the Chinese InterBERT on our proposed dataset of 3.1M image-text pairs from the mobile Taobao, the largest Chinese e-commerce platform. We finetune the model for text-based image retrieval, and recently we deployed the model online for topic-based recommendation.

* 11 pages, 4 figures 

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Secure Federated Submodel Learning

Nov 11, 2019
Chaoyue Niu, Fan Wu, Shaojie Tang, Lifeng Hua, Rongfei Jia, Chengfei Lv, Zhihua Wu, Guihai Chen

Federated learning was proposed with an intriguing vision of achieving collaborative machine learning among numerous clients without uploading their private data to a cloud server. However, the conventional framework requires each client to leverage the full model for learning, which can be prohibitively inefficient for resource-constrained clients and large-scale deep learning tasks. We thus propose a new framework, called federated submodel learning, where clients download only the needed parts of the full model, namely submodels, and then upload the submodel updates. Nevertheless, the "position" of a client's truly required submodel corresponds to her private data, and its disclosure to the cloud server during interactions inevitably breaks the tenet of federated learning. To integrate efficiency and privacy, we have designed a secure federated submodel learning scheme coupled with a private set union protocol as a cornerstone. Our secure scheme features the properties of randomized response, secure aggregation, and Bloom filter, and endows each client with a customized plausible deniability, in terms of local differential privacy, against the position of her desired submodel, thus protecting her private data. We further instantiated our scheme with the e-commerce recommendation scenario in Alibaba, implemented a prototype system, and extensively evaluated its performance over 30-day Taobao user data. The analysis and evaluation results demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of our scheme from model accuracy and convergency, practical communication, computation, and storage overheads, as well as manifest its remarkable advantages over the conventional federated learning framework.


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The StarCraft Multi-Agent Challenge

Feb 26, 2019
Mikayel Samvelyan, Tabish Rashid, Christian Schroeder de Witt, Gregory Farquhar, Nantas Nardelli, Tim G. J. Rudner, Chia-Man Hung, Philip H. S. Torr, Jakob Foerster, Shimon Whiteson

In the last few years, deep multi-agent reinforcement learning (RL) has become a highly active area of research. A particularly challenging class of problems in this area is partially observable, cooperative, multi-agent learning, in which teams of agents must learn to coordinate their behaviour while conditioning only on their private observations. This is an attractive research area since such problems are relevant to a large number of real-world systems and are also more amenable to evaluation than general-sum problems. Standardised environments such as the ALE and MuJoCo have allowed single-agent RL to move beyond toy domains, such as grid worlds. However, there is no comparable benchmark for cooperative multi-agent RL. As a result, most papers in this field use one-off toy problems, making it difficult to measure real progress. In this paper, we propose the StarCraft Multi-Agent Challenge (SMAC) as a benchmark problem to fill this gap. SMAC is based on the popular real-time strategy game StarCraft II and focuses on micromanagement challenges where each unit is controlled by an independent agent that must act based on local observations. We offer a diverse set of challenge maps and recommendations for best practices in benchmarking and evaluations. We also open-source a deep multi-agent RL learning framework including state-of-the-art algorithms. We believe that SMAC can provide a standard benchmark environment for years to come. Videos of our best agents for several SMAC scenarios are available at: https://youtu.be/VZ7zmQ_obZ0.


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