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Algorithmic discrimination is ruining lives and the EU has a chance to end it



Together with Paula Bouwer, a parent affected by the Dutch childcare benefit scandal, Landecker Fellow Noah Schöppl wrote an opinion piece on algorithmic discrimination published by the prominent Tagesspiegel Background. The article discusses the scandal and suggests that the European AI Act is an opportunity to prevent such injustice in the future.

In the Netherlands, more than 30,000 parents have had experiences of struggling with poverty, loss of jobs or social isolation due to a (false) fraud accusation by the state. Eventually, they would receive a “personally signed letter saying [the Prime Minister] is sorry for you and your children, admitting that unfortunately they made a mistake and that you are not a fraudster,” the authors explain. Nevertheless, the damage has been already done.

It is shocking that in a country with an advanced rule of law, such a miscarriage of justice could happen for such a long period,” Paula and Noah believe, adding that “more and more public and private institutions in Germany and across the EU are beginning to use opaque automated decision systems.

The paper further discusses the position of the European Parliament on the issues of AI, which they view as improved, yet not going “far enough” in some aspects. For example, “being informed does not mean that one has all relevant information to effectively challenge or opt out an automatic decision,” they wrote.

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Noah is one of thirty 2022-2023 Landecker Democracy Fellows. This fellowship, a collaboration between the Alfred Landecker Foundation and Humanity in Action, was created to strengthen a new generation of leaders whose approaches to political and social challenges can become catalysts for democratic placemaking and community building. Read more about the fellowship here.