Socially acceptable and fair AI

An NRP-77 project.

What does fairness mean? How is fairness perceived? How can fairness be implemented in AI?

Data-based decision-making systems are increasingly affecting people’s lives. Such systems decide whose credit loan application is approved, who is invited for a job interview and who is accepted into university. This raises the difficult question of how to design these systems, so that they are compatible with fairness and justice norms. Clearly, this is not simply a technical question - the design of such systems requires an understanding of the social context of these applications and requires us to think about philosophical questions.

Our team therefore combines expertise from the fields of philosophy, computer science and economy to tackle this question. The aim of our interdisciplinary project is the development of a methodology for the design of fair AI applications. This methodology will help guide stakeholders when considering the usage of AI in a socially responsible way, and will make it possible to train software developers in ethical topics.


As part of the National Research Programme “Digital Transformation” (NRP 77), our project is funded by the ​Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)


Oct, 2022 An update on our project team: As planned, Eleonora has left the project at the end of June. Thank you, Eleonora, for two great years and your critical philosophical contributions to our project! Joachim Steinwendner joined our project at the beginning of September and will contribute with his expertise in teaching and computer science.
Jun, 2022 Thanks to all 48 researchers for joining EWAF’22 and making this an event full of interesting discussions! We’re looking forward to seeing how the European algorithmic fairness community grows in the future.
Jun, 2022 The exhibition “Planet Digital” at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich has ended! More than 16.500 visitors saw the exhibition — thank you to everyone who came! We are happy to have been a part of this large multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary effort.
Jun, 2022 Joe and Christoph are organizing a workshop at the Swiss Conference on Data Science (SDS) 2022 on how to develop fairer algorithms. The workshop will take place on June 22, 2022. You can still register.
Jun, 2022 Tonight, our panel discussion about (un)fair algorithms took place at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich. The debate about fairness is highly political and has to include all of society. That’s why we’re so happy that about 100 people came to discuss this important topic with us.
Mar, 2022 At EPFL’s Applied Machine Learning Days 2022, Joe and Corinna gave a workshop with ethix about how to develop fairer algorithms. About 40 people from academia and the industry, with backgrounds in tech, business and social sciences, came and brought their perspective to the workshop. You can read more about it in this article published in Le Temps (in French).
Mar, 2022 As part of the exhibition “Planet Digital”, we’re hosting a panel discussion with AlgorithmWatch Switzerland and Stiftung Mercator at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich.
Where: Lecture hall, Museum für Gestaltung, Ausstellungsstrasse 60, Zurich
When: Thursday, June 2, 6pm - 8pm
Speakers: Moritz Leuenberger, Hans Peter Gränicher (CEO of D ONE), Anna Mätzener (managing director of AlgorithmWatch Switzerland) und Christoph Heitz (professor at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences)
Mar, 2022 We’re excited to share that Joe has been selected as fellow for Carnegie Mellon’s Data Science for Social Good 2022 Summer Fellowship. Congrats, Joe!
Mar, 2022 Joe and Corinna are organizing a workshop at EPFL’s Applied Machine Learning Days 2022 on how to develop fairer algorithms. It’ll take place on Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Mar, 2022 Christoph was on the Swiss news program “10vor10” to talk about (un)fair algorithms and our exhibit at “Planet Digital”. You can watch the clip here (in German).
Feb, 2022 The exhibition “Planet Digital” at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich just opened! Christoph and Corinna collaborated with AlgorithmWatch Switzerland to create an exhibit on (un)fair algorithms. A description of our exhibit (as well as the other exhibits) is available here.
Dec, 2021 Ulrich presented our project at the GoutAI-Seminar of the Center for AI-driven Business (Rennes Business School) on December 14, 2021.
Nov, 2021 We’re currently planning a workshop to bring the European research community on algorithmic fairness together. You can learn more about the workshop here. If you’re interested in participating, please let us know by filling out this 4-question form.
Nov, 2021 Corinna will give a tech talk at CeADAR (Ireland’s Centre for Applied AI) on November 18, 2021. You can sign up here.
Nov, 2021 Ulrich presented our project as part of the lecture series “Digital and networked working environments” of the NRW Forschungskolleg “Design of flexible working environments” of the Universities of Bielefeld and Paderborn on November 11, 2021.
Oct, 2021 As part of this year’s Swiss Digital Day at ZHAW, we will be at the opening of “Nüü”. We’ll show a short film on “(un)fair algorithms” (in German) that we produced with the help of a production company and you’ll have the chance to test an algorithmic hiring tool yourself (in German, French and English). Learn more about our project at nüü in this blog post (German).
Where: Nüü, Lagerstrasse 45, Zurich
When: Wednesday, November 10, 4pm – 10pm
Oct, 2021 Ulrich presented our project at the HR-A networking meeting at the University of Bochum on October 12, 2021.
Sep, 2021 Corinna will be part of a panel discussion on the chances and risks of AI on September 6, 2021. The discussion will take place in Winterthur and is organized by Digital Winterthur. You can sign up here.
Jun, 2021 Corinna will speak at the UCL workshop “Fairness and Diversity in Statistical Science” on July 6, 2021.
Jun, 2021 We’re excited to share that our paper “A Systematic Approach to Group Fairness in Automated Decision Making” just won the prize for the best paper in ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) of data science at this year’s Swiss Conference on Data Science.
Jun, 2021 Christoph was a guest on the podcast “Hans wie Heiri”, which is produced by the “Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism - Stiftung gegen Rassismus und Antisemitismus (GRA)” and “Gesellschaft Minderheiten in der Schweiz (GMS)” and focuses on human rights, democracy and anti-racism. Listen to the episode “Rassismus vorprogrammiert? - Chancen und Risiken von Algorithmen” (in German) on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or on GRA’s website.
May, 2021 Corinna will present our paper “A Systematic Approach to Group Fairness in Automated Decision Making” at the 8th Swiss Conference on Data Science (SDS 2021) on June 9th.
Mar, 2021 Christoph spoke about algorithmic fairness at the Naturwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft Winterthur. You can find his talk here (in German).
Mar, 2021 We’re very honoured that our paper “On the Moral Justification of Statistical Parity” just won one of the two Best Student Paper awards at this year’s FAccT!
Dec, 2020 We started the reading group “(Interdisciplinary) Ethics of Algorithms” at DSI! We always meet on the first Tuesday of the month. You can find more information here. Come by and say hi!
Dec, 2020 Our paper “On the Moral Justification of Statistical Parity” was accepted to this year’s FAccT!