Standardizing Dataset Documentation to Improve Machine Learning Outcomesby@textmodels
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Standardizing Dataset Documentation to Improve Machine Learning Outcomes

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Datasheets for datasets aim to document the creation and use of machine learning datasets to enhance transparency, accountability, and mitigate biases in AI models.
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(1) TIMNIT GEBRU, Black in AI;

(2) JAMIE MORGENSTERN, University of Washington;

(3) BRIANA VECCHIONE, Cornell University;

(4) JENNIFER WORTMAN VAUGHAN, Microsoft Research;

(5) HANNA WALLACH, Microsoft Research;

(6) HAL DAUMÉ III, Microsoft Research; University of Maryland;

(7) KATE CRAWFORD, Microsoft Research.

1 Introduction

1.1 Objectives

2 Development Process

3 Questions and Workflow

3.1 Motivation

3.2 Composition

3.3 Collection Process

3.4 Preprocessing/cleaning/labeling

3.5 Uses

3.6 Distribution

3.7 Maintenance

4 Impact and Challenges

Acknowledgments and References


1.1 Objectives

Datasheets for datasets are intended to address the needs of two key stakeholder groups: dataset creators and dataset consumers. For dataset creators, the primary objective is to encourage careful reflection on the process of creating, distributing, and maintaining a dataset, including any underlying assumptions, potential risks or harms, and implications of use. For dataset consumers, the primary objective is to ensure they have the information they need to make informed decisions about using a dataset. Transparency on the part of dataset creators is necessary for dataset consumers to be sufficiently well informed that they can select appropriate datasets for their chosen tasks and avoid unintentional misuse.[1]

Beyond these two key stakeholder groups, datasheets for datasets may be valuable to policy makers, consumer advocates, investigative journalists, individuals whose data is included in datasets, and individuals who may be impacted by models trained or evaluated using datasets. They also serve a secondary objective of facilitating greater reproducibility of machine learning results: researchers and practitioners without access to a dataset may be able to use the information in its datasheet to create alternative datasets with similar characteristics.

Although we provide a set of questions designed to elicit the information that a datasheet for a dataset might contain, these questions are not intended to be prescriptive. Indeed, we expect that datasheets will necessarily vary depending on factors such as the domain or existing organizational infrastructure and workflows. For example, some the questions are appropriate for academic researchers publicly releasing datasets for the purpose of enabling future research, but less relevant for product teams creating internal datasets for training proprietary models. As another example, Bender and Friedman [2] outline a proposal similar to datasheets for datasets specifically intended for language-based datasets. Their questions may be naturally integrated into a datasheet for a language-based dataset as appropriate.

We emphasize that the process of creating a datasheet is not intended to be automated. Although automated documentation processes are convenient, they run counter to our objective of encouraging dataset creators to carefully reflect on the process of creating, distributing, and maintaining a dataset.

This paper is available on arxiv under CC 4.0 license.

[1] We note that in some cases, the people creating a datasheet for a dataset may not be the dataset creators, as was the case with the example datasheets that we created as part of our development process.