Machine Learning Series: Part 12 – Explainable AI

  • By justin
  • February 12, 2024

Welcome to the Centric3 series on machine learning, in this article we discuss the importance of understanding and interpreting the decisions made by complex machine learning models. As AI systems become integral to decision-making in various domains, the need for transparency and interpretability becomes paramount.


Introduction to Explainable AI

The Black Box Problem

As machine learning models become increasingly sophisticated, they often operate as “black boxes,” making decisions without providing insights into the reasoning behind them. Explainable AI seeks to address this challenge by making the decision-making process of AI systems transparent and understandable to humans.

Importance of Interpretability

Building Trust: Explainable AI builds trust in AI systems by allowing users to understand why a particular decision was made. This is particularly crucial in applications where decisions impact individuals or society.

Detecting Bias: Transparent models enable the detection and mitigation of biases, ensuring fairness in decision-making. Understanding how models arrive at decisions helps identify and rectify potential sources of bias.


Methods of Explainable AI

Local Explanations

LIME (Local Interpretable Model-agnostic Explanations): LIME generates locally faithful explanations for model predictions by perturbing input data and observing the model’s response. It provides insights into how the model behaves in the vicinity of a specific prediction.

SHAP (SHapley Additive exPlanations): SHAP values attribute the contribution of each feature to a model’s prediction. They are based on cooperative game theory concepts, providing a unified measure of feature importance.

Global Explanations

Feature Importance: Analyzing feature importance helps understand which input features are most influential in a model’s decision-making process. Techniques include permutation importance and tree-based feature importance.

Model-Agnostic Approaches: Methods like Partial Dependence Plots and Accumulated Local Effects provide insights into the relationship between individual features and model predictions, irrespective of the underlying model.

Notable Applications

Applications of Explainable AI


In healthcare, Explainable AI is crucial for ensuring that decisions made by medical models are transparent and trustworthy. Interpretable models help physicians understand and trust AI-assisted diagnoses and treatment recommendations.


Explainable AI is essential in financial applications, especially for credit scoring and risk assessment. Clear explanations of decisions help ensure fairness, transparency, and compliance with regulations.

Autonomous Vehicles

In the realm of autonomous vehicles, understanding the decisions made by AI systems is vital for safety and public acceptance. Explainable AI enables users to comprehend why a vehicle made a specific decision, such as braking or changing lanes.


Challenges & Considerations

Trade-Off between Accuracy and Interpretability 

There is often a trade-off between model accuracy and interpretability. More complex models may achieve higher accuracy but tend to be less interpretable. Striking the right balance is a challenge in designing AI systems.


As models become larger and more complex, providing explanations for all decisions can be computationally expensive. Scalable methods for generating explanations without sacrificing accuracy are an ongoing area of research.


Future Directions & Advancements

Integrated Explainable AI

The future of Explainable AI involves integrating interpretability into the development process, making it an inherent part of machine learning models. This shift towards inherently interpretable models aims to eliminate the need for post hoc explanation methods.

Human-AI Collaboration

Advancements in Explainable AI will focus on enhancing the collaboration between humans and AI systems. This includes developing interfaces that facilitate meaningful interactions, allowing users to query and understand model decisions in real-time.

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