Right for the Right Reason: Training Agnostic Networks

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11191)


We consider the problem of a neural network being requested to classify images (or other inputs) without making implicit use of a “protected concept”, that is a concept that should not play any role in the decision of the network. Typically these concepts include information such as gender or race, or other contextual information such as image backgrounds that might be implicitly reflected in unknown correlations with other variables, making it insufficient to simply remove them from the input features. In other words, making accurate predictions is not good enough if those predictions rely on information that should not be used: predictive performance is not the only important metric for learning systems. We apply a method developed in the context of domain adaptation to address this problem of “being right for the right reason”, where we request a classifier to make a decision in a way that is entirely ‘agnostic’ to a given protected concept (e.g. gender, race, background etc.), even if this could be implicitly reflected in other attributes via unknown correlations. After defining the concept of an ‘agnostic model’, we demonstrate how the Domain-Adversarial Neural Network can remove unwanted information from a model using a gradient reversal layer.


Agnostic models Explainable AI Fairness in AI Trust 



SJ, TLW and NC are support by the FP7 Ideas: European Research Council Grant 339365 - ThinkBIG.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Intelligent Systems LaboratoryUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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