Taming Technical Bias in Machine Learning Pipelines


Machine Learning (ML) is commonly used to automate decisions in domains as varied as credit and lending, medical diagnosis, and hiring. These decisions are consequential, imploring us to carefully balance the benefits of efficiency with the potential risks. Much of the conversation about the risks centers around bias - a term that is used by the technical community ever more frequently but that is still poorly understood. In this paper we focus on technical bias - a type of bias that has so far received limited attention and that the data engineering community is well-equipped to address. We discuss dimensions of technical bias that can arise through the ML lifecycle, both during model development and after deployment. We present results of our recent work, and discuss future research directions. Our over-all goal is to support the development of systems that expose the knobs of responsibility to data scientists, allowing them to detect instances of technical bias and to mitigate it when possible.

IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin (Special Issue on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fairness and Artificial Intelligence Systems)