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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Now That Machines Can Learn, Can They Unlearn?

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grayscale image of futuristic, metallic, robotic head with bits of data exploding from the left side

If made practical, the concept of machine unlearning could give people more control over their data and the value derived from it.

Companies of all kinds use machine learning to analyze people's desires, dislikes, or faces, but some researchers are now asking a different question: How can we make machines forget? A nascent area of computer science dubbed machine unlearning seeks to induce selective amnesia in artificial intelligence (AI) software, striving to remove all trace of a particular person or data point without affecting performance.

However, the notion of artificial amnesia requires some new ideas in computer science. Once trained, a machine-learning system is not easily altered or even understood. It will take virtuoso technical work before tech companies can actually implement machine unlearning as a way to offer people more control over the algorithmic fate of their data. Even then, it might not change much about the privacy risks of the AI age.

From Wired
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