Collaborating Authors


State of AI Ethics Report (Volume 6, February 2022) Artificial Intelligence

This report from the Montreal AI Ethics Institute (MAIEI) covers the most salient progress in research and reporting over the second half of 2021 in the field of AI ethics. Particular emphasis is placed on an "Analysis of the AI Ecosystem", "Privacy", "Bias", "Social Media and Problematic Information", "AI Design and Governance", "Laws and Regulations", "Trends", and other areas covered in the "Outside the Boxes" section. The two AI spotlights feature application pieces on "Constructing and Deconstructing Gender with AI-Generated Art" as well as "Will an Artificial Intellichef be Cooking Your Next Meal at a Michelin Star Restaurant?". Given MAIEI's mission to democratize AI, submissions from external collaborators have featured, such as pieces on the "Challenges of AI Development in Vietnam: Funding, Talent and Ethics" and using "Representation and Imagination for Preventing AI Harms". The report is a comprehensive overview of what the key issues in the field of AI ethics were in 2021, what trends are emergent, what gaps exist, and a peek into what to expect from the field of AI ethics in 2022. It is a resource for researchers and practitioners alike in the field to set their research and development agendas to make contributions to the field of AI ethics.

External Stability Auditing to Test the Validity of Personality Prediction in AI Hiring Artificial Intelligence

Automated hiring systems are among the fastest-developing of all high-stakes AI systems. Among these are algorithmic personality tests that use insights from psychometric testing, and promise to surface personality traits indicative of future success based on job seekers' resumes or social media profiles. We interrogate the validity of such systems using stability of the outputs they produce, noting that reliability is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for validity. Our approach is to (a) develop a methodology for an external audit of stability of predictions made by algorithmic personality tests, and (b) instantiate this methodology in an audit of two systems, Humantic AI and Crystal. Crucially, rather than challenging or affirming the assumptions made in psychometric testing -- that personality is a meaningful and measurable construct, and that personality traits are indicative of future success on the job -- we frame our methodology around testing the underlying assumptions made by the vendors of the algorithmic personality tests themselves. In our audit of Humantic AI and Crystal, we find that both systems show substantial instability with respect to key facets of measurement, and so cannot be considered valid testing instruments. For example, Crystal frequently computes different personality scores if the same resume is given in PDF vs. in raw text format, violating the assumption that the output of an algorithmic personality test is stable across job-irrelevant variations in the input. Among other notable findings is evidence of persistent -- and often incorrect -- data linkage by Humantic AI.

Beyond traditional assumptions in fair machine learning Artificial Intelligence

After challenging the validity of these assumptions in real-world applications, we propose ways to move forward when they are violated. First, we show that group fairness criteria purely based on statistical properties of observed data are fundamentally limited. Revisiting this limitation from a causal viewpoint we develop a more versatile conceptual framework, causal fairness criteria, and first algorithms to achieve them. We also provide tools to analyze how sensitive a believed-to-be causally fair algorithm is to misspecifications of the causal graph. Second, we overcome the assumption that sensitive data is readily available in practice. To this end we devise protocols based on secure multi-party computation to train, validate, and contest fair decision algorithms without requiring users to disclose their sensitive data or decision makers to disclose their models. Finally, we also accommodate the fact that outcome labels are often only observed when a certain decision has been made. We suggest a paradigm shift away from training predictive models towards directly learning decisions to relax the traditional assumption that labels can always be recorded. The main contribution of this thesis is the development of theoretically substantiated and practically feasible methods to move research on fair machine learning closer to real-world applications.

Discrimination in the Age of Algorithms Artificial Intelligence

But the ambiguity of human decision-making often makes it extraordinarily hard for the legal system to know whether anyone has actually discriminated. To understand how algorithms affect discrimination, we must therefore also understand how they affect the problem of detecting discrimination. By one measure, algorithms are fundamentally opaque, not just cognitively but even mathematically. Yet for the task of proving discrimination, processes involving algorithms can provide crucial forms of transparency that are otherwise unavailable. These benefits do not happen automatically. But with appropriate requirements in place, the use of algorithms will make it possible to more easily examine and interrogate the entire decision process, thereby making it far easier to know whether discrimination has occurred. By forcing a new level of specificity, the use of algorithms also highlights, and makes transparent, central tradeoffs among competing values. Algorithms are not only a threat to be regulated; with the right safeguards in place, they have the potential to be a positive force for equity.