Collaborating Authors


A Logic-Based Explanation Generation Framework for Classical and Hybrid Planning Problems

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In human-aware planning systems, a planning agent might need to explain its plan to a human user when that plan appears to be non-feasible or sub-optimal. A popular approach, called model reconciliation, has been proposed as a way to bring the model of the human user closer to the agent’s model. To do so, the agent provides an explanation that can be used to update the model of human such that the agent’s plan is feasible or optimal to the human user. Existing approaches to solve this problem have been based on automated planning methods and have been limited to classical planning problems only. In this paper, we approach the model reconciliation problem from a different perspective, that of knowledge representation and reasoning, and demonstrate that our approach can be applied not only to classical planning problems but also hybrid systems planning problems with durative actions and events/processes. In particular, we propose a logic-based framework for explanation generation, where given a knowledge base KBa (of an agent) and a knowledge base KBh (of a human user), each encoding their knowledge of a planning problem, and that KBa entails a query q (e.g., that a proposed plan of the agent is valid), the goal is to identify an explanation ε ⊆ KBa such that when it is used to update KBh, then the updated KBh also entails q. More specifically, we make the following contributions in this paper: (1) We formally define the notion of logic-based explanations in the context of model reconciliation problems; (2) We introduce a number of cost functions that can be used to reflect preferences between explanations; (3) We present algorithms to compute explanations for both classical planning and hybrid systems planning problems; and (4) We empirically evaluate their performance on such problems. Our empirical results demonstrate that, on classical planning problems, our approach is faster than the state of the art when the explanations are long or when the size of the knowledge base is small (e.g., the plans to be explained are short). They also demonstrate that our approach is efficient for hybrid systems planning problems. Finally, we evaluate the real-world efficacy of explanations generated by our algorithms through a controlled human user study, where we develop a proof-of-concept visualization system and use it as a medium for explanation communication.

Conversational Agents: Theory and Applications Artificial Intelligence

In this chapter, we provide a review of conversational agents (CAs), discussing chatbots, intended for casual conversation with a user, as well as task-oriented agents that generally engage in discussions intended to reach one or several specific goals, often (but not always) within a specific domain. We also consider the concept of embodied conversational agents, briefly reviewing aspects such as character animation and speech processing. The many different approaches for representing dialogue in CAs are discussed in some detail, along with methods for evaluating such agents, emphasizing the important topics of accountability and interpretability. A brief historical overview is given, followed by an extensive overview of various applications, especially in the fields of health and education. We end the chapter by discussing benefits and potential risks regarding the societal impact of current and future CA technology.

Cryptocurrency Valuation: An Explainable AI Approach Machine Learning

Currently, there are no convincing proxies for the fundamentals of cryptocurrency assets. We propose a new market-to-fundamental ratio, the price-to-utility (PU) ratio, utilizing unique blockchain accounting methods. We then proxy various fundamental-to-market ratios by Bitcoin historical data and find they have little predictive power for short-term bitcoin returns. However, PU ratio effectively predicts long-term bitcoin returns. We verify PU ratio valuation by unsupervised and supervised machine learning. The valuation method informs investment returns and predicts bull markets effectively. Finally, we present an automated trading strategy advised by the PU ratio that outperforms the conventional buy-and-hold and market-timing strategies. We distribute the trading algorithms as open-source software via Python Package Index for future research.

Human Interpretation of Saliency-based Explanation Over Text Artificial Intelligence

While a lot of research in explainable AI focuses on producing effective explanations, less work is devoted to the question of how people understand and interpret the explanation. In this work, we focus on this question through a study of saliency-based explanations over textual data. Feature-attribution explanations of text models aim to communicate which parts of the input text were more influential than others towards the model decision. Many current explanation methods, such as gradient-based or Shapley value-based methods, provide measures of importance which are well-understood mathematically. But how does a person receiving the explanation (the explainee) comprehend it? And does their understanding match what the explanation attempted to communicate? We empirically investigate the effect of various factors of the input, the feature-attribution explanation, and visualization procedure, on laypeople's interpretation of the explanation. We query crowdworkers for their interpretation on tasks in English and German, and fit a GAMM model to their responses considering the factors of interest. We find that people often mis-interpret the explanations: superficial and unrelated factors, such as word length, influence the explainees' importance assignment despite the explanation communicating importance directly. We then show that some of this distortion can be attenuated: we propose a method to adjust saliencies based on model estimates of over- and under-perception, and explore bar charts as an alternative to heatmap saliency visualization. We find that both approaches can attenuate the distorting effect of specific factors, leading to better-calibrated understanding of the explanation.

From Anecdotal Evidence to Quantitative Evaluation Methods: A Systematic Review on Evaluating Explainable AI Artificial Intelligence

The rising popularity of explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) to understand high-performing black boxes, also raised the question of how to evaluate explanations of machine learning (ML) models. While interpretability and explainability are often presented as a subjectively validated binary property, we consider it a multi-faceted concept. We identify 12 conceptual properties, such as Compactness and Correctness, that should be evaluated for comprehensively assessing the quality of an explanation. Our so-called Co-12 properties serve as categorization scheme for systematically reviewing the evaluation practice of more than 300 papers published in the last 7 years at major AI and ML conferences that introduce an XAI method. We find that 1 in 3 papers evaluate exclusively with anecdotal evidence, and 1 in 5 papers evaluate with users. We also contribute to the call for objective, quantifiable evaluation methods by presenting an extensive overview of quantitative XAI evaluation methods. This systematic collection of evaluation methods provides researchers and practitioners with concrete tools to thoroughly validate, benchmark and compare new and existing XAI methods. This also opens up opportunities to include quantitative metrics as optimization criteria during model training in order to optimize for accuracy and interpretability simultaneously.

Subgoal-Based Explanations for Unreliable Intelligent Decision Support Systems Artificial Intelligence

Intelligent decision support (IDS) systems leverage artificial intelligence techniques to generate recommendations that guide human users through the decision making phases of a task. However, a key challenge is that IDS systems are not perfect, and in complex real-world scenarios may produce incorrect output or fail to work altogether. The field of explainable AI planning (XAIP) has sought to develop techniques that make the decision making of sequential decision making AI systems more explainable to end-users. Critically, prior work in applying XAIP techniques to IDS systems has assumed that the plan being proposed by the planner is always optimal, and therefore the action or plan being recommended as decision support to the user is always correct. In this work, we examine novice user interactions with a non-robust IDS system -- one that occasionally recommends the wrong action, and one that may become unavailable after users have become accustomed to its guidance. We introduce a novel explanation type, subgoal-based explanations, for planning-based IDS systems, that supplements traditional IDS output with information about the subgoal toward which the recommended action would contribute. We demonstrate that subgoal-based explanations lead to improved user task performance, improve user ability to distinguish optimal and suboptimal IDS recommendations, are preferred by users, and enable more robust user performance in the case of IDS failure

Pandemic babies higher risk for developmental delays, but don't blame the virus, researchers say

FOX News

Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr. explains the reasoning behind a vaccine mandate for students ages 5 and up on'America Reports.' COVID-19 during pregnancy surprisingly did not increase the chance of babies' neurodevelopmental delay, although those born during the pandemic were associated with higher neurodevelopmental delays compared to those born prior to the pandemic, according to a recent JAMA Pediatrics study. Columbia University Irving Medical Center established a prospective cohort study called COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcomes (COMBO) Initiative in the spring of 2020 to study the associations between the exposure of the virus while the baby is still in the mother's womb with the well-being of the baby. The researchers studied a cohort of infants who were exposed to COVID-19 during pregnancy and compared them to a control group of similar gestational age at birth, birthday, sex, and mode of delivery who were not exposed to the virus. Whether or not kids should be required to wear masks has been a polarizing topic thorough the COVID-19 pandemic. "Infants born to mothers who have viral infections during pregnancy have a higher risk of neurodevelopmental deficits, so we thought we would find some changes in the neurodevelopment of babies whose mothers had COVID during pregnancy," said lead investigator Dr. Dani Dumitriu.

Researchers are working toward more transparent language models


The most sophisticated AI language models, like OpenAI's GPT-3, can perform tasks from generating code to drafting marketing copy. But many of the underlying mechanisms remain opaque, making these models prone to unpredictable -- and sometimes toxic -- behavior. As recent research has shown, even careful calibration can't always prevent language models from making sexist associations or endorsing conspiracies. Newly proposed explainability techniques promise to make language models more transparent than before. While they aren't silver bullets, they could be the building blocks for less problematic models -- or at the very least models that can explain their reasoning.

Explainability Is in the Mind of the Beholder: Establishing the Foundations of Explainable Artificial Intelligence Artificial Intelligence

Explainable artificial intelligence and interpretable machine learning are research fields growing in importance. Yet, the underlying concepts remain somewhat elusive and lack generally agreed definitions. While recent inspiration from social sciences has refocused the work on needs and expectations of human recipients, the field still misses a concrete conceptualisation. We take steps towards addressing this challenge by reviewing the philosophical and social foundations of human explainability, which we then translate into the technological realm. In particular, we scrutinise the notion of algorithmic black boxes and the spectrum of understanding determined by explanatory processes and explainees' background knowledge. This approach allows us to define explainability as (logical) reasoning applied to transparent insights (into black boxes) interpreted under certain background knowledge - a process that engenders understanding in explainees. We then employ this conceptualisation to revisit the much disputed trade-off between transparency and predictive power and its implications for ante-hoc and post-hoc explainers as well as fairness and accountability engendered by explainability. We furthermore discuss components of the machine learning workflow that may be in need of interpretability, building on a range of ideas from human-centred explainability, with a focus on explainees, contrastive statements and explanatory processes. Our discussion reconciles and complements current research to help better navigate open questions - rather than attempting to address any individual issue - thus laying a solid foundation for a grounded discussion and future progress of explainable artificial intelligence and interpretable machine learning. We conclude with a summary of our findings, revisiting the human-centred explanatory process needed to achieve the desired level of algorithmic transparency.

Towards Relatable Explainable AI with the Perceptual Process Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning models need to provide contrastive explanations, since people often seek to understand why a puzzling prediction occurred instead of some expected outcome. Current contrastive explanations are rudimentary comparisons between examples or raw features, which remain difficult to interpret, since they lack semantic meaning. We argue that explanations must be more relatable to other concepts, hypotheticals, and associations. Inspired by the perceptual process from cognitive psychology, we propose the XAI Perceptual Processing Framework and RexNet model for relatable explainable AI with Contrastive Saliency, Counterfactual Synthetic, and Contrastive Cues explanations. We investigated the application of vocal emotion recognition, and implemented a modular multi-task deep neural network to predict and explain emotions from speech. From think-aloud and controlled studies, we found that counterfactual explanations were useful and further enhanced with semantic cues, but not saliency explanations. This work provides insights into providing and evaluating relatable contrastive explainable AI for perception applications.