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Communications of the ACM


Can AI Learn to Forget?

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Credit: Lightspring

Machine learning has emerged as a valuable tool for spotting patterns and trends that might otherwise escape humans. The technology, which can build elaborate models based on everything from personal preferences to facial recognition, is used widely to understand behavior, spot patterns and trends, and make informed predictions.

Yet for all the gains, there is also plenty of pain. A major problem associated with machine learning is that once an algorithm or model exists, expunging individual records or chunks of data is extraordinarily difficult. In most cases, it is necessary to retrain the entire model—sometimes with no assurance that that model will not continue to incorporate the suspect data in some way, says Gautam Kamath, an assistant professor in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo in Canada.


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