What is My Data Worth?

Ruoxi Jia at Berkeley artificial intelligence research: “People give massive amounts of their personal data to companies every day and these data are used to generate tremendous business values. Some economists and politicians argue that people should be paid for their contributions—but the million-dollar question is: by how much?

This article discusses methods proposed in our recent AISTATS and VLDB papers that attempt to answer this question in the machine learning context. This is joint work with David Dao, Boxin Wang, Frances Ann Hubis, Nezihe Merve Gurel, Nick Hynes, Bo Li, Ce Zhang, Costas J. Spanos, and Dawn Song, as well as a collaborative effort between UC Berkeley, ETH Zurich, and UIUC. More information about the work in our group can be found here.

What are the existing approaches to data valuation?

Various ad-hoc data valuation schemes have been studied in the literature and some of them have been deployed in the existing data marketplaces. From a practitioner’s point of view, they can be grouped into three categories:

  • Query-based pricing attaches values to user-initiated queries. One simple example is to set the price based on the number of queries allowed during a time window. Other more sophisticated examples attempt to adjust the price to some specific criteria, such as arbitrage avoidance.
  • Data attribute-based pricing constructs a price model that takes into account various parameters, such as data age, credibility, potential benefits, etc. The model is trained to match market prices released in public registries.
  • Auction-based pricing designs auctions that dynamically set the price based on bids offered by buyers and sellers.

However, existing data valuation schemes do not take into account the following important desiderata:

  • Task-specificness: The value of data depends on the task it helps to fulfill. For instance, if Alice’s medical record indicates that she has disease A, then her data will be more useful to predict disease A as opposed to other diseases.
  • Fairness: The quality of data from different sources varies dramatically. In the worst-case scenario, adversarial data sources may even degrade model performance via data poisoning attacks. Hence, the data value should reflect the efficacy of data by assigning high values to data which can notably improve the model’s performance.
  • Efficiency: Practical machine learning tasks may involve thousands or billions of data contributors; thus, data valuation techniques should be capable of scaling up.

With the desiderata above, we now discuss a principled notion of data value and computationally efficient algorithms for data valuation….(More)”.