skip to main content

Title: Towards Debiasing Sentence Representations
As natural language processing methods are increasingly deployed in real-world scenarios such as healthcare, legal systems, and social science, it becomes necessary to recognize the role they potentially play in shaping social biases and stereotypes. Previous work has revealed the presence of social biases in widely used word embeddings involving gender, race, religion, and other social constructs. While some methods were proposed to debias these word-level embeddings, there is a need to perform debiasing at the sentence-level given the recent shift towards new contextualized sentence representations such as ELMo and BERT. In this paper, we investigate the presence of social biases in sentence-level representations and propose a new method, Sent-Debias, to reduce these biases. We show that Sent-Debias is effective in removing biases, and at the same time, preserves performance on sentence-level downstream tasks such as sentiment analysis, linguistic acceptability, and natural language understanding. We hope that our work will inspire future research on characterizing and removing social biases from widely adopted sentence representations for fairer NLP.
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1750439 1722822
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
5502 - 5515
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Text representations are critical for modern natural language processing. One form of text representation, sense-specific embeddings, reflect a word’s sense in a sentence better than single-prototype word embeddings tied to each type. However, existing sense representations are not uniformly better: although they work well for computer-centric evaluations, they fail for human-centric tasks like inspecting a language’s sense inventory. To expose this discrepancy, we propose a new coherence evaluation for sense embeddings. We also describe a minimal model (Gumbel Attention for Sense Induction) optimized for discovering interpretable sense representations that are more coherent than existing sense embeddings.
  2. Pre-trained language models (PLMs) aim to learn universal language representations by conducting self-supervised training tasks on large-scale corpora. Since PLMs capture word semantics in different contexts, the quality of word representations highly depends on word frequency, which usually follows a heavy-tailed distributions in the pre-training corpus. Therefore, the embeddings of rare words on the tail are usually poorly optimized. In this work, we focus on enhancing language model pre-training by leveraging definitions of the rare words in dictionaries (e.g., Wiktionary). To incorporate a rare word definition as a part of input, we fetch its definition from the dictionary and append it to the end of the input text sequence. In addition to training with the masked language modeling objective, we propose two novel self-supervised pre-training tasks on word and sentence-level alignment between input text sequence and rare word definitions to enhance language modeling representation with dictionary. We evaluate the proposed Dict-BERT model on the language understanding benchmark GLUE and eight specialized domain benchmark datasets. Extensive experiments demonstrate that Dict-BERT can significantly improve the understanding of rare words and boost model performance on various NLP downstream tasks.
  3. null (Ed.)
    Recent years have witnessed the enormous success of text representation learning in a wide range of text mining tasks. Earlier word embedding learning approaches represent words as fixed low-dimensional vectors to capture their semantics. The word embeddings so learned are used as the input features of task-specific models. Recently, pre-trained language models (PLMs), which learn universal language representations via pre-training Transformer-based neural models on large-scale text corpora, have revolutionized the natural language processing (NLP) field. Such pre-trained representations encode generic linguistic features that can be transferred to almost any text-related applications. PLMs outperform previous task-specific models in many applications as they only need to be fine-tuned on the target corpus instead of being trained from scratch. In this tutorial, we introduce recent advances in pre-trained text embeddings and language models, as well as their applications to a wide range of text mining tasks. Specifically, we first overview a set of recently developed self-supervised and weakly-supervised text embedding methods and pre-trained language models that serve as the fundamentals for downstream tasks. We then present several new methods based on pre-trained text embeddings and language models for various text mining applications such as topic discovery and text classification. We focus on methodsmore »that are weakly-supervised, domain-independent, language-agnostic, effective and scalable for mining and discovering structured knowledge from large-scale text corpora. Finally, we demonstrate with real world datasets how pre-trained text representations help mitigate the human annotation burden and facilitate automatic, accurate and efficient text analyses.« less
  4. Online texts—across genres, registers, domains, and styles—are riddled with human stereotypes, expressed in overt or subtle ways. Word embeddings, trained on these texts, perpetuate and amplify these stereotypes, and propagate biases to machine learning models that use word embeddings as features. In this work, we propose a method to debias word embeddings in multiclass settings such as race and religion, extending the work of (Bolukbasi et al., 2016) from the binary setting, such as binary gender. Next, we propose a novel methodology for the evaluation of multiclass debiasing. We demonstrate that our multiclass debiasing is robust and maintains the efficacy in standard NLP tasks.
  5. Multilingual representations embed words from many languages into a single semantic space such that words with similar meanings are close to each other regardless of the language. These embeddings have been widely used in various settings, such as cross-lingual transfer, where a natural language processing (NLP) model trained on one language is deployed to another language. While the cross-lingual transfer techniques are powerful, they carry gender bias from the source to target languages. In this paper, we study gender bias in multilingual embeddings and how it affects transfer learning for NLP applications. We create a multilingual dataset for bias analysis and propose several ways for quantifying bias in multilingual representations from both the intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives. Experimental results show that the magnitude of bias in the multilingual representations changes differently when we align the embeddings to different target spaces and that the alignment direction can also have an influence on the bias in transfer learning. We further provide recommendations for using the multilingual word representations for downstream tasks.