Abstract: The two fields of machine learning and graphical causality arose and developed separately. However, there is now cross-pollination and increasing interest in both fields to benefit from the advances of the other. In the present paper, we review fundamental concepts of causal inference and relate them to crucial open problems of machine learning, including transfer and generalization, thereby assaying how causality can contribute to modern machine learning research. This also applies in the opposite direction: we note that most work in causality starts from the premise that the causal variables are given. A central problem for AI and causality is, thus, causal representation learning, the discovery of high-level causal variables from low-level observations. Finally, we delineate some implications of causality for machine learning and propose key research areas at the intersection of both communities.
Authors: Bernhard Schölkopf, Francesco Locatello, Stefan Bauer, Nan Rosemary Ke, Nal Kalchbrenner, Anirudh Goyal, Yoshua Bengio
Bio: Francesco Locatello recently joined Amazon as a Senior Applied Scientist. He defended his PhD at ETH Zurich, where he was a Doctoral Fellow at the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems and ELLIS supervised by Gunnar Rätsch (ETH Zurich) and Bernhard Schölkopf (Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems). He held a Google PhD Fellowship in Machine Learning and received the best paper award at the International Conference of Machine Learning (ICML) 2019.