Explainable AI

Predictions and quality interventions have led to an increased usage of AI. However, a lack of understanding of results still poses doubt about its application in sensitive situations. With life, money, and success at stake, a preferable innovation by humans would be to understand the mechanism of prediction by AI. Owing to the need, explainable AI has been developed through numerous techniques. While it accompanies varying benefits, challenges and real-world applications, gathering insights into explainable AI enlightens you about what to expect in the future concerning the development of AI. The article details explainable AI aspects to familiarize you with the concept.

What is Explainable AI?

Artificial Intelligence has taken over most of the businesses. Relying blindly on AI for crucial decisions is still doubtful owing to non-transparency in the route of concluding. To solve the problem, humans have developed explainable AI that maintains transparency over its actions and helps humans get explanatory results from AI algorithms. 

Also known as XAI, when incorporated into Machine Learning systems, the AI will be able to explain the logic behind decision-making, indicate the working mechanism and indicate their strengths and weaknesses, further aiding in deciding their reliability. It is expected through an explanation interface coupled with an explainable model in the upcoming systems. 

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Why is Explainable AI Important?

Commonly available AI models do not explain or understand the pathway followed to reach a conclusion. This has led them to be termed as ‘black box.’ Offering light at the tunnel, the explainable AI provides a solution to this and serves importance due to the following reasons: 

  • It contributes to accuracy, transparency, and fairness and characterizes outcomes in decision-making. 
  • Helps to adopt a responsible approach with cultural adaptation for the organization 
  • Eases the possibility of error identification, unethical behavior and biases serving educational purposes and aiding in solving technical problems 
  • Increases collaboration and adoption rates of AI for tasks like emotional intelligence and creative thinking 
  • AI can offer new avenues of discovery by generating hypotheses and predictions. 
  • Effortless identification and hence risk mitigation especially important in ethical decisions 

Techniques for Explainable AI

Humans can curate explainable AI through multiple methods. The numerous of them are enlisted below: 


SHapley Additive exPlanations, or SHAP, is a framework that assigns values or provides a way to fairly distribute the ‘contribution’ of each feature. It helps differentiate between the models and baseline prediction. For instance, it can be used to understand the reason for rejecting or accepting a loan. 


Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanations, or LIME, create a simpler and interpretable model to get approximate information on the behavior of a complex model on a specific instance. It is useful for estimating the reason for specific predictions and black-box models. For instance, fit a linear model to explain the decision of a deep neural network for specific image classification. 

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Feature Importance Analysis 

The technique is utilized to analyze the role of each feature in prediction by model. It guides the factors considered by AI for decisions. For instance, making use of permutation to understand the impact of shuffling a feature on prediction accuracy 

Decision Trees and Rule-Based Models 

They show the logic behind each decision branch and hence are widely used for offering transparency. They provide step-wise insight into interpretation by the model processing. 

Attention Mechanisms in Deep Learning 

It helps to understand the important inputs for the AI’s decision. For instance, evaluating why a specific part of an image influences the classification done by Convolutional Neural Network or CNN’s classification. 

Model distillation

The technique aims to train the simpler and more interpretable model to mimic the behavior of the complex model. It provides a simplified model that closely approximates the original model’s decisions. 

Prototype-Based Explanations 

It utilizes the prototypes for each class to understand the reason behind the decisions. For instance, identifying prototypes for different types of animals to explain a model’s image classification.  

Natural Language Explanations 

It functions to generate human-readable explanations that explain the model decisions. It aids people from non-technical backgrounds in using the model with understandability. For instance, one can use it to understand the reason for product recommendations by the chatbot. 

Anchor Explanations 

The technique defines the simple conditions that lead to a specific prediction. It uses a clear and specific rule to make the decision. For instance, approving the loan if the credit score is above 650. 

Integrated Gradients 

It begins with understanding the role of features from baseline input to the actual input. For instance, the technique is useful in medical diagnosis AI to separately identify the contribution of a combination of symptoms to a specific illness. 

Feature Visualization

It generates images that maximize specific neuron activations. It aids in understanding the aspects of input data that the model focuses on. For instance, feature visualization generates the maximized image of a specific neuron that recognizes the dog in the image. 

Contrastive Explanations 

It compares two similar instances with different outcomes to identify the factors contributing to varying results. For instance, one can compare two transactions where one is labeled as fraud while another is legitimate to understand the functionality behind the predictions. 

Game-Theoretic Explanations 

It uses cooperative game theory concepts to distribute relevant points among the features. It aids in understanding the importance of features. For instance, the significance of features like amenities, size and location in the house price prediction.

Benefits of Explainable AI

Explainable AI offers several benefits, including 

  • Reduces the cost of mistakes, which goes very high in decision-sensitive fields like medicine, legal, finance, business and others. 
  • Minimizes the bias and errors and their impact on organizations
  • Inference tends to increase the system’s confidence and is useful in user-critical systems 
  • Efficient model performance through an understanding of weaknesses 
  • Informed decision-making allows using the human brain for better-optimized results

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Challenges in Achieving Explainability in AI

Despite numerous techniques capable of developing Explainable AI, humans still need to overcome multiple challenges, such as: 

  • Lack of insights about the biasedness of training data which has the possibility to impact its decisions 
  • Judging the fairness of a decision depends on perspective, and the same can vary between individual and human
  • Simplification of complexity is associated with a reduction in accuracy. XAI aims to simplify the conclusion and mechanisms, which may become inaccurate 
  • Interpreting multiple layers of Deep Learning remains a challenge owing to the higher complexity 
  • A wide variety of data may require specialized techniques for the explanation, which is difficult to work out 

Real-World Applications of Explainable AI (XAI)

Explainable AI has the potential for widespread application with efficient output in different sectors. Some of the most prominent Explainable AI examples include: 


XAI can predict the specific customer turnover, make the pricing changes more transparent for customers and provide smooth customer experiences. Specific categories requiring application are payment exceptions, cross-selling, tailored pricing, fraud detection and enhancing customer interaction. 


AI can develop marketing strategies with a better understanding of culture adaptations, identify weak points in current AI models, and mitigate them and other associated risks to gain better trustworthy results. 


Drug designing is a crucial process requiring time and money investment. Further, the understanding of human functioning remains hidden regardless of research advancements. AI can generate mathematical models and simulations capable of suggesting potential leads with explanations. It can also predict the occurrences of health conditions with increased rationality and accountability, thus allowing the human decision to rely on AI. 

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The intervention of explainable AI techniques helps more quickly reveal errors or highlight areas for improvement. Thus, it gets easier for machine learning operations (MLOps) teams supervising AI systems to monitor and maintain them efficiently. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does explainable AI differ from traditional machine learning?

Explainable AI makes informed decisions and accurate predictions. Traditional machine learning solely focuses on accuracy while lacking transparency in decision-making. 

2. What are some techniques used for achieving explainability?

Some of the common techniques contributing to achieving explainability in AI are SHAP, LIME, attention mechanisms, counterfactual explanations and others. 

3. What are the four principles of explainable AI?

The four principles of explainable AI are accountability, transparency, fairness and interpretability. 

4. In which industries is XAI particularly important?

XAI is important in industries like healthcare, finance, retail, legal and manufacturing. 

5. How does XAI impact human-AI collaboration?

The XAI impacts human-AI collaboration by improving trust, aiding in effective decision-making, reducing bias and enhancing the learning from AI. 

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