Silke Husse


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Mind Your Bias: A Critical Review of Bias Detection Methods for Contextual Language Models
Silke Husse | Andreas Spitz
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2022

The awareness and mitigation of biases are of fundamental importance for the fair and transparent use of contextual language models, yet they crucially depend on the accurate detection of biases as a precursor. Consequently, numerous bias detection methods have been proposed, which vary in their approach, the considered type of bias, and the data used for evaluation. However, while most detection methods are derived from the word embedding association test for static word embeddings, the reported results are heterogeneous, inconsistent, and ultimately inconclusive. To address this issue, we conduct a rigorous analysis and comparison of bias detection methods for contextual language models. Our results show that minor design and implementation decisions (or errors) have a substantial and often significant impact on the derived bias scores. Overall, we find the state of the field to be both worse than previously acknowledged due to systematic and propagated errors in implementations, yet better than anticipated since divergent results in the literature homogenize after accounting for implementation errors. Based on our findings, we conclude with a discussion of paths towards more robust and consistent bias detection methods.