Robustness to Spurious Correlations via Human Annotations

Jul 12, 2020

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The reliability of machine learning systems critically assumes that the associations between features and labels remain similar between training and test distributions. However, unmeasured variables, such as confounders, break this assumption—useful correlations between features and labels at training time can become useless or even harmful at test time. For example, high obesity is generally predictive for heart disease, but this relation may not hold for smokers who generally have lower rates of obesity and higher rates of heart disease. We present a framework for making models robust to spurious correlations by leveraging humans' common sense knowledge of causality. Specifically, we use human annotation to augment each training example with a potential unmeasured variable (i.e. an underweight patient with heart disease may be a smoker), which reduces the problem to a covariate shift problem. We then introduce a new distributionally robust optimization objective over unmeasured variables (UV-DRO) to control the worst-case loss over possible test-time shifts. Empirically, we show 5–10

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About ICML 2020

The International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) is the premier gathering of professionals dedicated to the advancement of the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning. ICML is globally renowned for presenting and publishing cutting-edge research on all aspects of machine learning used in closely related areas like artificial intelligence, statistics and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics. ICML is one of the fastest growing artificial intelligence conferences in the world. Participants at ICML span a wide range of backgrounds, from academic and industrial researchers, to entrepreneurs and engineers, to graduate students and postdocs.

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