Inductive Risk, Understanding, and Opaque Machine Learning Models


Under what conditions does machine learning (ML) model opacity inhibit the possibility of explaining and understanding phenomena? In this paper, I argue that non-epistemic values give shape to the ML opacity problem even if we keep researcher interests fixed. Treating ML models as an instance of doing model-based science to explain and understand phenomena reveals that there is (i) an external opacity problem, where the presence of inductive risk imposes higher standards on externally validating models, and (ii) an internal opacity problem, where greater inductive risk demands a higher level of transparency regarding the inferences the model makes.

Philosophy of Science
Emily Sullivan
Emily Sullivan
Assistant Professor
Area Lead: Opacity and ML