Fair Enough: Standardizing Evaluation and Model Selection for Fairness Research in NLP

Xudong Han, University of Melbourne
Timothy Baldwin, University of Melbourne & Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence
Trevor Cohn, University of Melbourne


Modern NLP systems exhibit a range of biases, which a growing literature on model debiasing attempts to correct. However current progress is hampered by a plurality of definitions of bias, means of quantification, and oftentimes vague relation between debiasing algorithms and theoretical measures of bias. This paper seeks to clarify the current situation and plot a course for meaningful progress in fair learning, with two key contributions: (1) making clear inter-relations among the current gamut of methods, and their relation to fairness theory; and (2) addressing the practical problem of model selection, which involves a trade-off between fairness and accuracy and has led to systemic issues in fairness research. Putting them together, we make several recommendations to help shape future work.