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Inflow, Outflow, and Reciprocity in Machine Learning

Mukund Sundararajan · Walid Krichene

Ballroom C


Data is pooled across entities (individuals or enterprises) to create machine learning models, and sometimes, the entities that contribute the data also benefit from the models. Consider for instance a recommender system (e.g. Spotify, Instagram or YouTube), a health care app that predicts the risk for some disease, or a service built by pooling data across enterprises. In this work we propose a framework to study this value exchange, i.e., we model and measure contributions (outflows), benefits (inflows) and the balance between contributions and benefits (the degree of reciprocity). We show theoretically, and via experiments that under certain distributional assumptions, some classes of models are approximately reciprocal. These results only scratch the surface; we conclude with several open directions.

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