Cyrus Cousins

Adversarial Methods for Fairness and Robustness in Machine Learning

Decentering Imputation: Fair Learning at the Margins of Demographics

Evan Dong & Cyrus Cousins

Extended Abstract (in Queer in AI at ICML 2022)

Read the paper here.


Fair Machine Learning ♦ Rawlsian Ethics ♣ Adversarial Learning ♥ Optimization Methods ♠ ML for Marginalized Groups

Queer in AI at ICML 2022 Poster

Algorithms and Analysis for Optimizing Robust Objectives in Fair Machine Learning

Cyrus Cousins

Columbia Workshop on Fairness in Operations and AI 2023


The original position or veil of ignorance argument of John Rawls, perhaps the most famous argument for egalitarianism, states that our concept of fairness, justice, or welfare should be decided from behind a veil of ignorance, and thus must consider everyone impartially (invariant to our identity). This can be posed as a zero-sum game, where a Dæmon constructs a world, and an adversarial Angel then places the Dæmon into the world. This game incentivizes the Dæmon to maximize the minimum utility over all people (i.e., to maximize egalitarian welfare). In some sense, this is the most extreme form of risk aversion or robustness, and we show that by weakening the Angel, milder robust objectives arise, which we argue are effective robust proxies for fair learning or allocation tasks. In particular, the utilitarian, Gini, and power-mean welfare concepts arise from special cases of the adversarial game, which has philosophical implications for the understanding of each of these concepts. We also motivate a new fairness concept that essentially fuses the nonlinearity of the power-mean with the piecewise nature of the Gini class. Then, exploiting the relationship between fairness and robustness, we show that these robust fairness concepts can all be efficiently optimized under mild conditions via standard maximin optimization techniques. Finally, we show that such methods apply in machine learning contexts, and moreover we show generalization bounds for robust fair machine learning tasks.


Fair Machine Learning ♦ Rawlsian Ethics ♣ Adversarial Learning ♥ Convex Optimization ♠ Robust Fair Learning


Read the workshop paper here.

AI Generated images

All images of the Rawlsian game created as part of this project are available in the gallery. For more information, see here.