Latent Imitator: Generating Natural Individual Discriminatory Instances for Black-Box Fairness Testing

Yisong Xiao, Aishan Liu, Tianlin Li, Xianglong Liu

Machine learning (ML) systems have achieved remarkable performance across a wide area of applications. However, they frequently exhibit unfair behaviors in sensitive application domains, raising severe fairness concerns. To evaluate and test fairness, engineers often generate individual discriminatory instances to expose unfair behaviors before model deployment. However, existing baselines ignore the naturalness of generation and produce instances that deviate from the real data distribution, which may fail to reveal the actual model fairness since these unnatural discriminatory instances are unlikely to appear in practice. To address the problem, this paper proposes a framework named Latent Imitator (LIMI) to generate more natural individual discriminatory instances with the help of a generative adversarial network (GAN), where we imitate the decision boundary of the target model in the semantic latent space of GAN and further samples latent instances on it. Specifically, we first derive a surrogate linear boundary to coarsely approximate the decision boundary of the target model, which reflects the nature of the original data distribution. Subsequently, to obtain more natural instances, we manipulate random latent vectors to the surrogate boundary with a one-step movement, and further conduct vector calculation to probe two potential discriminatory candidates that may be more closely located in the real decision boundary. Extensive experiments on various datasets demonstrate that our LIMI outperforms other baselines largely in effectiveness ($\times$9.42 instances), efficiency ($\times$8.71 speeds), and naturalness (+19.65%) on average. In addition, we empirically demonstrate that retraining on test samples generated by our approach can lead to improvements in both individual fairness (45.67% on $IF_r$ and 32.81% on $IF_o$) and group fairness (9.86% on $SPD$ and 28.38% on $AOD$}).

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