Data & Society > our work > working paper > The Intuitive Appeal of Explainable Machines

working paper | 03.02.18

The Intuitive Appeal of Explainable Machines

Andrew Selbst, Solon Barocas

This paper is a response to calls for explainable machines by Data & Society Postdoctoral Scholar Andrew Selbst and Affiliate Solon Barocas.

“We argue that calls for explainable machines have failed to recognize the connection between intuition and evaluation and the limitations of such an approach. A belief in the value of explanation for justification assumes that if only a model is explained, problems will reveal themselves intuitively. Machine learning, however, can uncover relationships that are both non-intuitive and legitimate, frustrating this mode of normative assessment. If justification requires understanding why the model’s rules are what they are, we should seek explanations of the process behind a model’s development and use, not just explanations of the model itself.”

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