Evaluating the Fairness of Discriminative Foundation Models in Computer Vision

We propose a novel taxonomy for bias evaluation of discriminative foundation models, such as Contrastive Language-Pretraining (CLIP), that are used for labeling tasks. We then systematically evaluate existing methods for mitigating bias in these models with respect to our taxonomy. Specifically, we evaluate OpenAI's CLIP and OpenCLIP models for key applications, such as zero-shot classification, image retrieval and image captioning. We categorize desired behaviors based around three axes: (i) if the task concerns humans; (ii) how subjective the task is (i.e., how likely it is that people from a diverse range of backgrounds would agree on a labeling); and (iii) the intended purpose of the task and if fairness is better served by impartiality (i.e., making decisions independent of the protected attributes) or representation (i.e., making decisions to maximize diversity). Finally, we provide quantitative fairness evaluations for both binary-valued and multi-valued protected attributes over ten diverse datasets. We find that fair PCA, a post-processing method for fair representations, works very well for debiasing in most of the aforementioned tasks while incurring only minor loss of performance. However, different debiasing approaches vary in their effectiveness depending on the task. Hence, one should choose the debiasing approach depending on the specific use case.

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