Everything You Need To Know – Explainable AI (XAI)


Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) is a set of procedures and strategies that enables the output and consequences of Machine Learning algorithms to be understood and trusted by people. 

Explainable AI is used to demonstrate an AI model, its expected outcomes, and any inherent biases. It helps define model accuracy, fairness, transparency, and results in AI-supported decision-making. When implementing AI models in a business, trust, and confidence must be built. With the help of AI explainability, a business may approach AI development appropriately. 

Humans find it difficult to understand and trace the steps taken by the algorithm as AI develops. The entire calculating procedure is transformed into what is known as a “black box,” which is difficult to understand. The data are used to generate these black box models.  

Furthermore, nobody, not even the engineers or data scientists who developed the algorithm, can comprehend or describe what is happening inside them, let alone how the AI algorithm came to a particular conclusion. That’s where Explainable AI comes in! 

What is Explainable AI (XAI)?  

Explainable AI (XAI) is Artificial Intelligence that only operates in the circumstances it was designed, giving users a certain level of confidence in its outputs’ accuracy and explaining how specific outcomes were obtained in a form that a human can understand. 

Ensuring that the function and operation of Artificial Intelligence algorithms are transparent is the job of Explainable AI. Data science engineers and other individuals working to advance Artificial Intelligence advances frequently aim to create explainable AI as their main focus. 

Explainability promotes openness by enabling data scientists to check data and algorithmic results for undesirable results, particularly unintentional bias. This one is one of the five guiding Explainable AI principles that define trust in AI systems. The other four guiding principles are accountability, reproducibility, lack of bias, and resiliency. 

Why Does Explainable AI Matter?  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems frequently have flaws that go unnoticed or have a big impact on results. Such flaws would be easier to find and address with Explainable AI. 

In recent years, we’ve grown to appreciate AI’s accomplishments in fields like document classification, movie recommendation, and checkouts without cashiers. They contribute to efficiency and daily life improvement, whereas erroneous outputs have little effect. 

The effects of inaccurate AI outputs can be important in various contexts, such as in health, medical, military, legal, and financial applications. Understanding how AI systems operate is essential since they involve important decisions. 

How to Get Comfortable with the AI Model?  

Explainability is the ability to articulate the reasoning behind an AI system’s decision, suggestion, or prediction. Understanding how the AI model works and the kinds of data used to train it is necessary to develop this capability. That might sound easy enough, but the more advanced an AI system gets, the more difficult it is to determine how it came to a certain conclusion. By continuously consuming data, evaluating the prediction effectiveness of various algorithmic combinations, and upgrading the resulting model, AI engines get “smarter” over time. They accomplish all of this at breakneck speeds, occasionally producing results in a matter of milliseconds. 

It might be simple to unravel the first-order insight and describe how the AI moved from point A to point B. But as AI systems interpolate and re-interpolate data, it becomes more difficult to track the insight audit trail. 

The fact that various users of the AI system have varied explainability requirements complicates problems. If a bank utilizes an AI engine to support credit decisions, it must give consumers who are turned down for a loan an explanation of why they were turned down. To make sure the model is tweaked properly, loan officers and AI practitioners may want even more detailed information to help them comprehend the risk variables and weightings utilized in rendering the decision. Additionally, the risk function or diversity office might need to vouch for the accuracy of the data used by the AI engine. Regulators and other stakeholders will also have unique requirements and objectives. 

How to Enhance Performance via Complexity?  

Lack of transparency goes hand in hand with complexity. AI models are occasionally referred to as “black boxes” because complicated systems make it difficult to see what the model learned during training or whether it will perform as planned under unknowable circumstances. 

Engineers can remain confident that their models will function in all scenarios even as their predictive capacity (and corresponding complexity) rises by asking questions about the model to reveal its predictions, judgments, and actions. 

Explainability can also assist engineers in developing models in analyzing inaccurate predictions and debugging their code. It can be a part of investigating problems with the model or the raw data used to train it. Explainable methodologies can provide an avenue for engineers to enhance accuracy by describing why a model arrived at a given outcome. 

The ability to explain a model is important to stakeholders other than model developers and engineers since it satisfies the needs of each of them. A client would want to have faith that the model will perform as predicted in all scenarios, whereas a decision-maker might want to grasp how a model works without delving into the technical details. 

The ability to show fairness and reliability in a model’s conclusions will become more important as interest in using AI in sectors with specific regulatory needs grows. Decision-makers want to believe that the models they use are sensible and will operate within strict regulatory constraints. 

The detection and elimination of bias in all applications are of great relevance. When models are trained on irregularly sampled data, bias can be introduced, which can be particularly problematic when applied to human subjects. To ensure that AI models give accurate predictions without implicitly favoring certain groups, model makers must understand how bias could skew outcomes. 

Examples of Increased Complexity 

AI models do not necessarily need to be complicated. Due to a “common sense” grasp of the physical linkages in that model, some models, like temperature control, are intrinsically explicable.  

For example, the heater activates when the temperature drops below a predetermined level, and it turns off once it crosses a threshold. Based on the room’s temperature, it is simple to check that the system operates as it should. If simple, naturally explicable models are accurate enough, they may be accepted in applications where black box models are unsuitable. 

The representation of a complex and sophisticated system by neural networks is another example of complexity in AI. AI neural networks draw on a variety of fields, including parallel computing, solid-state physics, nonlinear dynamics, and human brain physiology. 

Local Interpretability Explained 

A variety of methods are utilized in local model interpretation to deal with problems like: 

  • Why was a certain prediction made by the model? 
  • What effects can be attributed to the forecast of this particular feature value? 

By integrating our domain experience with the information obtained from local model interpretation, we can determine whether our model is appropriate for our circumstance or not. 

These days, a business (or a person) should be capable of defending the choices made by their model, particularly if it is used in a field that demands a high level of precision and data security, such as health or finance. As a result, the importance of local model interpretation is growing. 

  •          LIME 

Lime or Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic is an interpretation technique that leverages local surrogate models to provide a reasonable approximation of the black-box model predictions. Individual predictions of a black-box model are explained by interpretable models such as Linear Regression or Decision Trees. 

From the target data point, Lime builds a new dataset and trains a surrogate model on it. Different datasets are produced in different ways depending on whether the information is present in the form of images, text, and tables. 

By arbitrarily turning on or off specific words or pixels, LIME builds the dataset for text and visual data. LIME generates new samples for tabular data by altering each feature on its own. 

  •         SHAP 

Making a prediction regarding a particular data point is the “game” in Machine Learning. The “players” are the data point’s feature values, and the “gain” is what is left after subtracting the average prediction over all occurrences. 

The Shapley value is the average marginal contribution of a feature value across all conceivable coalitions. In contrast to other approaches like LIME, it is a fantastic way to understand a single prediction because it informs us how much each feature value contributed and the amount of those contributions. 

Check out the Shapley Values part of Christoph Molnar’s book “Interpretable Machine Learning” to learn more about Shapley Values and their determination. 

When to Use What? 

Both LIME and SHAP are effective tools for the model explanation. Theoretically, SHAP is the superior strategy since it offers mathematical assurances for the precision and coherence of justifications. Even with approximations, the model-neutral SHAP implementation (Kernel Explainer) is slow in practice. If you are utilizing a tree-based model and can take advantage of the optimizations offered in SHAP Tree Explainer, this speed issue is considerably less of a worry. 


Explainable AI can enhance the user experience of a product or service by fostering end-user confidence in the AI’s judgment. Organizations can access the underlying decision-making capability of AI technology using explainable AI and interpretable Machine Learning.  Enroll in the Executive PG Diploma in Management and Artificial Intelligence course by UNext to learn more about explainable AI and its importance.  

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