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Poster: On the Impossibility of Fairness-Aware Learning from Corrupted Data
Nikola Konstantinov · Christoph Lampert

Addressing fairness concerns about machine learning models is a crucial step towards their long-term adoption in real-world automated systems. Many approaches for training fair models from data have been developed and an implicit assumption about such algorithms is that they are able to recover a fair model, despite potential historical biases in the data. In this work we show a number of impossibility results that indicate that there is no learning algorithm that can recover a fair model when a proportion of the dataset is subject to arbitrary manipulations. Specifically, we prove that there are situations in which an adversary can force any learner to return a biased classifier, with or without degrading accuracy, and that the strength of this bias increases for learning problems with underrepresented protected groups in the data. Our results emphasize on the importance of studying further data corruption models of various strength and of establishing stricter data collection practices for fairness-aware learning.

Author Information

Nikola Konstantinov (IST Austria)
Christoph Lampert (IST Austria)
Christoph Lampert

Christoph Lampert received the PhD degree in mathematics from the University of Bonn in 2003. In 2010 he joined the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) first as an Assistant Professor and since 2015 as a Professor. There, he leads the research group for Machine Learning and Computer Vision, and since 2019 he is also the head of ISTA's ELLIS unit.

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