A Variational Approach to Privacy and Fairness

AAAI 2021

Abstract: In this article, we propose a new variational approach to learn private and/or fair representations. This approach is based on the Lagrangians of a new formulation of the privacy and fairness optimization problems that we propose. In this formulation, we aim at generating representations of the data that keep a prescribed level of the relevant information that is not shared by the private or sensitive data, while minimizing the remaining information they keep. The proposed approach (i) exhibits the similarities of the privacy and fairness problems, (ii) allows us to control the trade-off between utility and privacy or fairness through the Lagrange multiplier parameter, and (iii) can be comfortably incorporated to common representation learning algorithms such as the VAE, the $\beta$-VAE, the VIB, or the nonlinear IB. Authors: Borja Rodríguez-Gálvez, Ragnar Thobaben, Mikael Skoglund (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)