A Survey on Explainable AI for 6G O-RAN: Architecture, Use Cases, Challenges and Research Directions

by   Bouziane Brik, et al.

The recent O-RAN specifications promote the evolution of RAN architecture by function disaggregation, adoption of open interfaces, and instantiation of a hierarchical closed-loop control architecture managed by RAN Intelligent Controllers (RICs) entities. This paves the road to novel data-driven network management approaches based on programmable logic. Aided by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), novel solutions targeting traditionally unsolved RAN management issues can be devised. Nevertheless, the adoption of such smart and autonomous systems is limited by the current inability of human operators to understand the decision process of such AI/ML solutions, affecting their trust in such novel tools. eXplainable AI (XAI) aims at solving this issue, enabling human users to better understand and effectively manage the emerging generation of artificially intelligent schemes, reducing the human-to-machine barrier. In this survey, we provide a summary of the XAI methods and metrics before studying their deployment over the O-RAN Alliance RAN architecture along with its main building blocks. We then present various use-cases and discuss the automation of XAI pipelines for O-RAN as well as the underlying security aspects. We also review some projects/standards that tackle this area. Finally, we identify different challenges and research directions that may arise from the heavy adoption of AI/ML decision entities in this context, focusing on how XAI can help to interpret, understand, and improve trust in O-RAN operational networks.


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