Contrastive Explanation: A Structural-Model Approach

11/07/2018 ∙ by Tim Miller, et al. ∙ 0

The topic of causal explanation in artificial intelligence has gathered interest in recent years as researchers and practitioners aim to increase trust and understanding of intelligent decision-making and action. While different sub-fields have looked into this problem with a sub-field-specific view, there are few models that aim to capture explanation in AI more generally. One general model is based on structural causal models. It defines an explanation as a fact that, if found to be true, would constitute an actual cause of a specific event. However, research in philosophy and social sciences shows that explanations are contrastive: that is, when people ask for an explanation of an event -- the fact --- they (sometimes implicitly) are asking for an explanation relative to some contrast case; that is, "Why P rather than Q?". In this paper, we extend the structural causal model approach to define two complementary notions of contrastive explanation, and demonstrate them on two classical AI problems: classification and planning. We believe that this model can be used to define contrastive explanation of other subfield-specific AI models.

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