Linear Adversarial Concept Erasure


Modern neural models trained on textual data rely on pre-trained representations that emerge without direct supervision. As these representations are increasingly being used in real-world applications, the inability to emphcontrol their content becomes an increasingly important problem. We formulate the problem of identifying and erasing a linear subspace that corresponds to a given concept, in order to prevent linear predictors from recovering the concept. We model this problem as a constrained, linear minimax game, and show that existing solutions are generally not optimal for this task. We derive a closed-form solution for certain objectives, and propose a convex relaxation, R-LACE, that works well for others. When evaluated in the context of binary gender removal, the method recovers a low-dimensional subspace whose removal mitigates bias by intrinsic and extrinsic evaluation. We show that the method – despite being linear – is highly expressive, effectively mitigating bias in deep nonlinear classifiers while maintaining tractability and interpretability.

Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Machine Learning