Using Adversarial Attacks to Reveal the Statistical Bias in Machine Reading Comprehension Models

05/24/2021 ∙ by Jieyu Lin, et al. ∙ 0

Pre-trained language models have achieved human-level performance on many Machine Reading Comprehension (MRC) tasks, but it remains unclear whether these models truly understand language or answer questions by exploiting statistical biases in datasets. Here, we demonstrate a simple yet effective method to attack MRC models and reveal the statistical biases in these models. We apply the method to the RACE dataset, for which the answer to each MRC question is selected from 4 options. It is found that several pre-trained language models, including BERT, ALBERT, and RoBERTa, show consistent preference to some options, even when these options are irrelevant to the question. When interfered by these irrelevant options, the performance of MRC models can be reduced from human-level performance to the chance-level performance. Human readers, however, are not clearly affected by these irrelevant options. Finally, we propose an augmented training method that can greatly reduce models' statistical biases.

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