Balanced Filtering via Non-Disclosive Proxies

Siqi Deng, Emily Diana, Michael Kearns, Aaron Roth

We study the problem of non-disclosively collecting a sample of data that is balanced with respect to sensitive groups when group membership is unavailable or prohibited from use at collection time. Specifically, our collection mechanism does not reveal significantly more about group membership of any individual sample than can be ascertained from base rates alone. To do this, we adopt a fairness pipeline perspective, in which a learner can use a small set of labeled data to train a proxy function that can later be used for this filtering task. We then associate the range of the proxy function with sampling probabilities; given a new candidate, we classify it using our proxy function, and then select it for our sample with probability proportional to the sampling probability corresponding to its proxy classification. Importantly, we require that the proxy classification itself not reveal significant information about the sensitive group membership of any individual sample (i.e., it should be sufficiently non-disclosive). We show that under modest algorithmic assumptions, we find such a proxy in a sample- and oracle-efficient manner. Finally, we experimentally evaluate our algorithm and analyze generalization properties.