Explaining Black-Box Algorithms Using Probabilistic Contrastive Counterfactuals

#artificialintelligence 

There has been a recent resurgence of interest in explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) that aims to reduce the opaqueness of AI-based decision-making systems, allowing humans to scrutinize and trust them. Prior work in this context has focused on the attribution of responsibility for an algorithm's decisions to its inputs wherein responsibility is typically approached as a purely associational concept. In this paper, we propose a principled causality-based approach for explaining black-box decision-making systems that addresses limitations of existing methods in XAI. At the core of our framework lies probabilistic contrastive counterfactuals, a concept that can be traced back to philosophical, cognitive, and social foundations of theories on how humans generate and select explanations. We show how such counterfactuals can quantify the direct and indirect influences of a variable on decisions made by an algorithm, and provide actionable recourse for individuals negatively affected by the algorithm's decision.

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