Why Government Agencies Need to Incorporate Explainable AI in 2021

Just_Super/iStock.com

Consumers want reassurance about ethical use and fairness related to AI.

In a world fueled by digital data, the use of artificial intelligence is prolific—from the automation of human processes to discovering hidden insights at scale and speed. Machines can do many tasks far more efficiently and reliably than humans, resulting in everyday life that increasingly resembles science fiction. This inevitably sparks concern about controls—or lack thereof—to inspect and ensure these advanced technologies are used responsibly. 

Consumers want reassurance about ethical use and fairness related to AI. Businesses need to mitigate the risk of unintended consequences when employing these advanced, complex solutions. Enter: Explainable AI, or XAI, an attempt to create transparency in the “black box” of artificial intelligence.

Can you confidently answer the simple questions below about your current AI solutions? 

  • Why did the AI model make a specific decision or prediction?
  • When the result is unexpected, why did the model pick an alternate choice?
  • How much confidence can be placed in the AI model results?

What is Explainable AI?

Think of it as a two-step process: first, interpretability, the ability to interpret an AI model, and second, explainability, to be able to explain it in a way humans can comprehend. Interpretability is the extent to which an AI model’s decisions can be comprehended (understanding of the raw mechanics of the model) and the ability to anticipate model results.

Explainability takes this further and where a model’s decision or prediction can be made transparent and communicated to humans. In other words, a human would be able to understand why a decision was made without being an expert in advanced math.

The Expanding Need for XAI Within Government

The increase in the use of AI in the last decade has U.S. agencies monitoring the debate about AI ethics and seeking signs of potential regulation. There is considerable public debate on the ethical use of AI and federal departments such as the Health and Human Services and Defense departments are solidifying a commitment to “Ethical, Trustworthy AI Use and Development” and “AI Ethical Principles.” 

Transparency in how AI models work their explainability is a key part of monitoring and ensuring compliance with these ethical principles. The link between AI model explainability and AI ethics was also reinforced recently when the National Institute of Standards and Technology proposed four principles for explainable artificial intelligence: explanation, meaningful, explanation accuracy and knowledge limits. NIST recognizes the “challenges of designing explainable AI systems” and indicates these four principles are “heavily influenced by considering the AI system’s interaction with the human recipient of the information.” However, NIST believes XAI “contributes to the safe operation and trust of multiple facets of complex AI systems.”

But barriers to adopting XAI remain, including: 

  • Increased Initial Investment: Using an XAI approach to AI model development may increase the amount of initial investment to support model transparency requirements. It could also deter the selection of an advanced technique that provides superior results but cannot be easily explained. Alternatively, the potential risk of unintended, negative outcomes using a ‘black box’ AI approach could result in much higher costs in the long term to remediate.
  • Intellectual Property: Some of the latest research has shown that as the explainability of a machine learning model increases, the security of that model can decrease. Given full explainability, a model can be reverse-engineered or recreated but can pose a threat to the intellectual property of the technologies involved in its original creation. Additionally, such information can expose the model to hacking or hijacking. Mitigating this risk through the ability to explain the model and transparency is a possibility–however, this level of information is only shared with a limited audience.

While there are many benefits to consumers and businesses alike when leveraging AI, the complexity of AI models can make it difficult to answer questions about how a decision was made or an action taken. To regulate AI both informally or formally, we must be able to understand and explain it. To mitigate risk of legal and moral issues when employing AI solutions, government leaders must consider XAI as part of any plan for AI ethics.  

Claire Walsh is the vice president of engineering at Excella Inc.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.