Since Artificial Intelligence (AI) software uses techniques like deep lookahead search and stochastic optimization of huge neural networks to fit mammoth datasets, it often results in complex behavior that is difficult for people to understand. Yet organizations are deploying AI algorithms in many mission-critical settings. To trust their behavior, we must make AI intelligible, either by using inherently interpretable models or by developing new methods for explaining and controlling otherwise overwhelmingly complex decisions using local approximation, vocabulary alignment, and interactive explanation. This paper argues that intelligibility is essential, surveys recent work on building such systems, and highlights key directions for research.
There has recently been a surge of work in explanatory artificial intelligence (XAI). This research area tackles the important problem that complex machines and algorithms often cannot provide insights into their behavior and thought processes. XAI allows users and parts of the internal system to be more transparent, providing explanations of their decisions in some level of detail. These explanations are important to ensure algorithmic fairness, identify potential bias/problems in the training data, and to ensure that the algorithms perform as expected. However, explanations produced by these systems is neither standardized nor systematically assessed. In an effort to create best practices and identify open challenges, we provide our definition of explainability and show how it can be used to classify existing literature. We discuss why current approaches to explanatory methods especially for deep neural networks are insufficient. Finally, based on our survey, we conclude with suggested future research directions for explanatory artificial intelligence.
Recent work on interpretability in machine learning and AI has focused on the building of simplified models that approximate the true criteria used to make decisions. These models are a useful pedagogical device for teaching trained professionals how to predict what decisions will be made by the complex system, and most importantly how the system might break. However, when considering any such model it's important to remember Box's maxim that "All models are wrong but some are useful." We focus on the distinction between these models and explanations in philosophy and sociology. These models can be understood as a "do it yourself kit" for explanations, allowing a practitioner to directly answer "what if questions" or generate contrastive explanations without external assistance. Although a valuable ability, giving these models as explanations appears more difficult than necessary, and other forms of explanation may not have the same trade-offs. We contrast the different schools of thought on what makes an explanation, and suggest that machine learning might benefit from viewing the problem more broadly.
Supervised machine learning models boast remarkable predictive capabilities. But can you trust your model? Will it work in deployment? What else can it tell you about the world? We want models to be not only good, but interpretable. And yet the task of interpretation appears underspecified. Papers provide diverse and sometimes non-overlapping motivations for interpretability, and offer myriad notions of what attributes render models interpretable. Despite this ambiguity, many papers proclaim interpretability axiomatically, absent further explanation. In this paper, we seek to refine the discourse on interpretability. First, we examine the motivations underlying interest in interpretability, finding them to be diverse and occasionally discordant. Then, we address model properties and techniques thought to confer interpretability, identifying transparency to humans and post-hoc explanations as competing notions. Throughout, we discuss the feasibility and desirability of different notions, and question the oft-made assertions that linear models are interpretable and that deep neural networks are not.
Despite widespread adoption, machine learning models remain mostly black boxes. Understanding the reasons behind predictions is, however, quite important in assessing trust, which is fundamental if one plans to take action based on a prediction, or when choosing whether to deploy a new model. Such understanding also provides insights into the model, which can be used to transform an untrustworthy model or prediction into a trustworthy one. In this work, we propose LIME, a novel explanation technique that explains the predictions of any classifier in an interpretable and faithful manner, by learning an interpretable model locally around the prediction. We also propose a method to explain models by presenting representative individual predictions and their explanations in a non-redundant way, framing the task as a submodular optimization problem. We demonstrate the flexibility of these methods by explaining different models for text (e.g. random forests) and image classification (e.g. neural networks). We show the utility of explanations via novel experiments, both simulated and with human subjects, on various scenarios that require trust: deciding if one should trust a prediction, choosing between models, improving an untrustworthy classifier, and identifying why a classifier should not be trusted.