Spotlight Poster

Auditing for Human Expertise

Rohan Alur · Loren Laine · Darrick Li · Manish Raghavan · Devavrat Shah · Dennis Shung

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #1600
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Wed 13 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


High-stakes prediction tasks (e.g., patient diagnosis) are often handled by trained human experts. A common source of concern about automation in these settings is that experts may exercise intuition that is difficult to model and/or have access to information (e.g., conversations with a patient) that is simply unavailable to a would-be algorithm. This raises a natural question whether human experts add value which could not be captured by an algorithmic predictor.We develop a statistical framework under which we can pose this question as a natural hypothesis test. Indeed, as our framework highlights, detecting human expertise is more subtle than simply comparing the accuracy of expert predictions to those made by a particular learning algorithm. Instead, we propose a simple procedure which tests whether expert predictions are statistically independent from the outcomes of interest after conditioning on the available inputs (‘features’). A rejection of our test thus suggests that human experts may add value to any algorithm trained on the available data, and has direct implications for whether human-AI ‘complementarity’ is achievable in a given prediction task.We highlight the utility of our procedure using admissions data collected from the emergency department of a large academic hospital system, where we show that physicians’ admit/discharge decisions for patients with acute gastrointestinal bleeding (AGIB) appear to be incorporating information that is not available to a standard algorithmic screening tool. This is despite the fact that the screening tool is arguably more accurate than physicians’ discretionary decisions, highlighting that – even absent normative concerns about accountability or interpretability – accuracy is insufficient to justify algorithmic automation.

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