Gradient Based Activations for Accurate Bias-Free Learning

Vinod K. Kurmi, Rishabh Sharma, Yash Vardhan Sharma, Vinay P. Namboodiri

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding


Bias mitigation in machine learning models is imperative, yet challenging. While several approaches have been proposed, one view towards mitigating bias is through adversarial learning. A discriminator is used to identify the bias attributes such as gender, age or race in question. This discriminator is used adversarially to ensure that it cannot distinguish the bias attributes. The main drawback in such a model is that it directly introduces a trade-off with accuracy as the features that the discriminator deems to be sensitive for discrimination of bias could be correlated with classification. In this work we solve the problem. We show that a biased discriminator can actually be used to improve this bias-accuracy tradeoff. Specifically, this is achieved by using a feature masking approach using the discriminator's gradients. We ensure that the features favoured for the bias discrimination are de-emphasized and the unbiased features are enhanced during classification. We show that this simple approach works well to reduce bias as well as improve accuracy significantly. We evaluate the proposed model on standard benchmarks. We improve the accuracy of the adversarial methods while maintaining or even improving the unbiasness and also outperform several other recent methods.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAAAI-22 Technical Tracks 7
PublisherAssociation for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781577358763
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022
Event36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 22 Feb 20221 Mar 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022


Conference36th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2022
CityVirtual, Online

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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