Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content

Workshop: Data Centric AI

Who Decides if AI is Fair? The Labels Problem in Algorithmic Auditing


Labeled "ground truth" datasets are routinely used to evaluate and audit AI algorithms applied in high-stakes settings. However, there do not exist widely accepted benchmarks for the quality of labels in these datasets. We provide empirical evidence that the quality of labels can significantly distort the results of algorithmic audits in real-world settings. Using data annotators typically hired by AI firms in India, we show that fidelity of the ground truth data can lead to spurious differences in the performance of ASRs between urban and rural populations. After a rigorous, albeit expensive, label cleaning process, these disparities between groups disappear. Our findings highlight how trade-offs between label quality and data annotation costs can complicate algorithmic audits in practice. They also emphasize the need for the development of consensus-driven, widely accepted benchmarks for label quality.