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Balancing Competing Objectives with Noisy Data: Score-Based Classifiers for Welfare-Aware Machine Learning
Esther Rolf · Max Simchowitz · Sarah Dean · Lydia T. Liu · Daniel Bjorkegren · Moritz Hardt · Joshua Blumenstock

Wed Jul 15 09:00 AM -- 09:45 AM & Wed Jul 15 10:00 PM -- 10:45 PM (PDT) @

While real-world decisions involve many competing objectives, algorithmic decisions are often evaluated with a single objective function. In this paper, we study algorithmic policies which explicitly trade off between a private objective (such as profit) and a public objective (such as social welfare). We analyze a natural class of policies which trace an empirical Pareto frontier based on learned scores, and focus on how such decisions can be made in noisy or data-limited regimes. Our theoretical results characterize the optimal strategies in this class, bound the Pareto errors due to inaccuracies in the scores, and show an equivalence between optimal strategies and a rich class of fairness-constrained profit-maximizing policies. We then present empirical results in two different contexts --- online content recommendation and sustainable abalone fisheries --- to underscore the generality of our approach to a wide range of practical decisions. Taken together, these results shed light on inherent trade-offs in using machine learning for decisions that impact social welfare.

Author Information

Esther Rolf (UC Berkeley)
Max Simchowitz (UC Berkeley)
Sarah Dean (UC Berkeley)
Lydia T. Liu (University of California Berkeley)
Daniel Bjorkegren (Brown University)
Moritz Hardt (University of California, Berkeley)
Joshua Blumenstock (University of California, Berkeley)

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