From fair decision making to social equality


The study of fairness in intelligent decision systems has mostly ignored long-term influence on the underlying population. Yet fairness considerations (eg affirmative action) have often the implicit goal of achieving balance among groups within the population. The most basic notion of balance is eventual equality between the qualifications of the groups. How can we incorporate influence dynamics in decision making? How well do dynamics-oblivious fairness policies fare in terms of reaching equality? In this paper, we propose a simple yet revealing model that encompasses (1) a selection process where an institution chooses from multiple groups according to their qualifications so as to maximize an institutional utility and (2) dynamics that govern the evolution of the groups’ qualifications according to the imposed policies. We focus on demographic parity as the formalism of affirmative action.

Proceedings of the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (Facct)