Unwanted and often harmful social biases are becoming ever more salient in NLP research, affecting both models and datasets. In this work, we ask whether training on demographically perturbed data leads to fairer language models. We collect a large dataset of human annotated text perturbations and train a neural perturbation model, which we show outperforms heuristic alternatives. We find that (i) language models (LMs) pre-trained on demographically perturbed corpora are typically more fair, and (ii) LMs finetuned on perturbed GLUE datasets exhibit less demographic bias on downstream tasks, and (iii) fairness improvements do not come at the expense of performance on downstream tasks. Lastly, we discuss outstanding questions about how best to evaluate the (un)fairness of large language models. We hope that this exploration of neural demographic perturbation will help drive more improvement towards fairer NLP.
We generalize the notion of measuring social biases in word embeddings to visually grounded word embeddings. Biases are present in grounded embeddings, and indeed seem to be equally or more significant than for ungrounded embeddings. This is despite the fact that vision and language can suffer from different biases, which one might hope could attenuate the biases in both. Multiple ways exist to generalize metrics measuring bias in word embeddings to this new setting. We introduce the space of generalizations (Grounded-WEAT and Grounded-SEAT) and demonstrate that three generalizations answer different yet important questions about how biases, language, and vision interact. These metrics are used on a new dataset, the first for grounded bias, created by augmenting standard linguistic bias benchmarks with 10,228 images from COCO, Conceptual Captions, and Google Images. Dataset construction is challenging because vision datasets are themselves very biased. The presence of these biases in systems will begin to have real-world consequences as they are deployed, making carefully measuring bias and then mitigating it critical to building a fair society.
We develop a semantic parser that is trained in a grounded setting using pairs of videos captioned with sentences. This setting is both data-efficient, requiring little annotation, and similar to the experience of children where they observe their environment and listen to speakers. The semantic parser recovers the meaning of English sentences despite not having access to any annotated sentences. It does so despite the ambiguity inherent in vision where a sentence may refer to any combination of objects, object properties, relations or actions taken by any agent in a video. For this task, we collected a new dataset for grounded language acquisition. Learning a grounded semantic parser — turning sentences into logical forms using captioned videos — can significantly expand the range of data that parsers can be trained on, lower the effort of training a semantic parser, and ultimately lead to a better understanding of child language acquisition.