Distill-and-Compare: Auditing Black-Box Models Using Transparent Model Distillation

17 Oct 2017  ·  Sarah Tan, Rich Caruana, Giles Hooker, Yin Lou ·

Black-box risk scoring models permeate our lives, yet are typically proprietary or opaque. We propose Distill-and-Compare, a model distillation and comparison approach to audit such models. To gain insight into black-box models, we treat them as teachers, training transparent student models to mimic the risk scores assigned by black-box models. We compare the student model trained with distillation to a second un-distilled transparent model trained on ground-truth outcomes, and use differences between the two models to gain insight into the black-box model. Our approach can be applied in a realistic setting, without probing the black-box model API. We demonstrate the approach on four public data sets: COMPAS, Stop-and-Frisk, Chicago Police, and Lending Club. We also propose a statistical test to determine if a data set is missing key features used to train the black-box model. Our test finds that the ProPublica data is likely missing key feature(s) used in COMPAS.

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