Overconfidence in Machine Learning: Do Models Know What They Don’t Know?


The past few years have seen significant improvements in the accuracy of machine learning models (particularly deep learning models), in areas such as computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language processing. These models are increasingly being deployed across a variety of commercial, medical, and scientific applications. While many of these models are often very accurate in their predictions they still make mistakes. A natural question in this context is whether models are able to calibrate their predictions: can we trust the confidence of a model? In this talk I will discuss some of the key ideas and research in this area including recent work on prediction confidence and human-AI collaboration.


Padhraic Smyth is a Chancellor's Professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) with appointments in the Department of Computer Science and in the Department of Statistics. His research interests include machine learning, pattern recognition, and applied statistics and he has published over 200 research papers on these topics. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and has served in editorial and advisory positions for journals such as the Journal of Machine Learning Research and the Journal of the American Statistical Association. He has co-authored two texts, Principles of Data Mining (MIT Press, 2001), and Modeling the Internet and the Web (Wiley, 2003). While at UCI he has received research funding from federal agencies such as NSF, NIH, NASA, and NIST, we well as from companies such as Google, Qualcomm, SAP, Adobe, IBM, Experian, and Microsoft. In addition to his academic research he is also active in industry consulting, working on the development of new machine learning algorithms and methods across multiple application areas. He also served as an academic advisor to Netflix for the Netflix prize competition from 2006 to 2009. Padhraic grew up in the west of Ireland and received a bachelor's degree in Electronic Engineering from the National University of Ireland (Galway) in 1984. He then received Masters and PhD degrees (in 1985 and 1988 respectively) in Electrical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. From 1988 to 1996 he was a Technical Group Leader at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, and has been on the faculty at UC Irvine since 1996.

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