Ninareh Mehrabi


Robust Conversational Agents against Imperceptible Toxicity Triggers
Ninareh Mehrabi | Ahmad Beirami | Fred Morstatter | Aram Galstyan
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Warning: this paper contains content that maybe offensive or upsetting.Recent research in Natural Language Processing (NLP) has advanced the development of various toxicity detection models with the intention of identifying and mitigating toxic language from existing systems. Despite the abundance of research in this area, less attention has been given to adversarial attacks that force the system to generate toxic language and the defense against them. Existing work to generate such attacks is either based on human-generated attacks which is costly and not scalable or, in case of automatic attacks, the attack vector does not conform to human-like language, which can be detected using a language model loss. In this work, we propose attacks against conversational agents that are imperceptible, i.e., they fit the conversation in terms of coherency, relevancy, and fluency, while they are effective and scalable, i.e., they can automatically trigger the system into generating toxic language. We then propose a defense mechanism against such attacks which not only mitigates the attack but also attempts to maintain the conversational flow. Through automatic and human evaluations, we show that our defense is effective at avoiding toxic language generation even against imperceptible toxicity triggers while the generated language fits the conversation in terms of coherency and relevancy. Lastly, we establish the generalizability of such a defense mechanism on language generation models beyond conversational agents.

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Proceedings of the First Workshop on Federated Learning for Natural Language Processing (FL4NLP 2022)
Bill Yuchen Lin | Chaoyang He | Chulin Xie | Fatemehsadat Mireshghallah | Ninareh Mehrabi | Tian Li | Mahdi Soltanolkotabi | Xiang Ren
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Federated Learning for Natural Language Processing (FL4NLP 2022)

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Attributing Fair Decisions with Attention Interventions
Ninareh Mehrabi | Umang Gupta | Fred Morstatter | Greg Ver Steeg | Aram Galstyan
Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Trustworthy Natural Language Processing (TrustNLP 2022)

The widespread use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in consequential domains, such as health-care and parole decision-making systems, has drawn intense scrutiny on the fairness of these methods. However, ensuring fairness is often insufficient as the rationale for a contentious decision needs to be audited, understood, and defended. We propose that the attention mechanism can be used to ensure fair outcomes while simultaneously providing feature attributions to account for how a decision was made. Toward this goal, we design an attention-based model that can be leveraged as an attribution framework. It can identify features responsible for both performance and fairness of the model through attention interventions and attention weight manipulation. Using this attribution framework, we then design a post-processing bias mitigation strategy and compare it with a suite of baselines. We demonstrate the versatility of our approach by conducting experiments on two distinct data types, tabular and textual.


Lawyers are Dishonest? Quantifying Representational Harms in Commonsense Knowledge Resources
Ninareh Mehrabi | Pei Zhou | Fred Morstatter | Jay Pujara | Xiang Ren | Aram Galstyan
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Warning: this paper contains content that may be offensive or upsetting. Commonsense knowledge bases (CSKB) are increasingly used for various natural language processing tasks. Since CSKBs are mostly human-generated and may reflect societal biases, it is important to ensure that such biases are not conflated with the notion of commonsense. Here we focus on two widely used CSKBs, ConceptNet and GenericsKB, and establish the presence of bias in the form of two types of representational harms, overgeneralization of polarized perceptions and representation disparity across different demographic groups in both CSKBs. Next, we find similar representational harms for downstream models that use ConceptNet. Finally, we propose a filtering-based approach for mitigating such harms, and observe that our filtered-based approach can reduce the issues in both resources and models but leads to a performance drop, leaving room for future work to build fairer and stronger commonsense models.