For a machine learning application to be successful, it is not enough to give highly accurate predictions: Customers also want to know why the model has made that prediction, so they can compare it against their intuition and (hopefully) gain trust in the model. However, there is a trade-off between model accuracy and explainability – for example, the more complex your feature transformations become, the harder it is to explain what the resulting features mean to the end customer. However, with the right system design this doesn’t mean it has to be a binary choice between these two goals.
It is possible to combine complex, even automatic, feature engineering with highly accurate models and explanations. We will describe how we are using lineage tracing to solve this issue at Salesforce Einstein, allowing good model explanations to coexist with automatic feature engineering and model selection. By building this into an open source AutoML library TransmogrifAI, an extension to SparkMlLib, it is easy to ensure a consistent level of transparency in all of our ML applications. As model explanations are provided out of the box, data scientists don’t need to re-invent the wheel when model explanations need to be surfaced.
Leah McGuire is a Principal Member of Technical Staff at Salesforce Einstein, building platforms to enable the integration of machine learning into Salesforce products. Before joining Salesforce, Leah was a Senior Data Scientist on the data products team at LinkedIn working on personalization, entity resolution, and relevance for a variety of LinkedIn data products. She completed a PhD and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Computational Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco, and at University of California, Berkeley, where she studied the neural encoding and integration of sensory signals.