Skip to content
Website-LunchTalk-270623 – 1

Lunch Talk | The Theory of Artificial Immutability: Protecting Algorithmic Groups under Anti-Discrimination Law

The Lunch Talk will take place on 27 June 2023 at 12:30 CET. The speaker, Sandra Wachter, will provide thematic insights into algorithmic groups under anti-discrimination law. Hadi Asghari will moderate the event. This is an in-person as well as online event, which will be held in English. Our aim is to come together and exchange ideas in an inspiring digital lunch break.


L U N C H  T A L K

The Theory of Artificial Immutability: Protecting Algorithmic Groups under Anti-Discrimination Law

Sandra Wachter

Tuesday, 27 June 2023 | 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm (CET)
Online (via Zoom) & Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Französische Str. 9, 10117 Berlin


Artificial intelligence is increasingly used to make life-changing decisions, including about who is successful with their job application and who gets into university. To do this, AI often creates groups that haven’t previously been used by humans. Many of these groups are not covered by non-discrimination law (e.g., ‘dog owners’ or ‘sad teens’), and some of them are even incomprehensible to humans (e.g., people classified by how fast they scroll through a page or by which browser they use).

This is important because decisions based on algorithmic groups can be harmful. If a loan applicant scrolls through the page quickly or uses only lower caps when filling out the form, their application is more likely to be rejectedIf a job applicant uses browsers such as Microsoft Explorer or Safari instead of Chrome or Firefox, they are less likely to be successful. Non-discrimination law aims to protect against similar types of harms, such as equal access to employment, goods, and services, but has never protected “fast scrollers” or “Safari users”. Granting these algorithmic groups protection will be challenging because historically the European Court of Justice has remained reluctant to extend the law to cover new groups.

She argues that algorithmic groups should be protected by non-discrimination law and shows how this could be achieved.


Sandra Wachter, she is a Professor of Technology and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, where she researches the legal and ethical implications of emerging technologies such as AI, Big Data, and robotics. She leads the Governance of Emerging Technologies Research Programme and is affiliated with numerous institutions worldwide, advising on regulatory and ethical questions concerning emerging technologies. Her work focuses on profiling, inferential analytics, algorithmic bias, diversity, and fairness, as well as governmental surveillance, predictive policing, human rights online, and health tech and medical law. Professor Wachter’s research has received significant media attention, and she has won numerous awards, including for her contributions to AI governance. Her current British Academy project aims to find mechanisms to protect privacy and identity in the age of AI and Big Data. Her work also includes the governance and ethical design of algorithms, ethical auditing methods for AI, and legal and ethical aspects of robotics and autonomous systems.


Hadi Asghari is a postdoctoral researcher in the Public Interest AI research group at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG). His research  focuses on safeguarding public values in AI systems. Hadi collaborates closely with researchers and experts from various disciplines and backgrounds, including civil society, industry, and government. He is a member of the AI & Society Lab (at HIIG), the Access Request Advocacy & Research Network (at VU Brussels), and the Open Tech Fund advisory council, among others.


Lunch Talk Series

In our Lunch Talk Series, we explore cutting edge research at the intersection of digitalization and society that is also highly relevant for practice and policy. Topics include grand challenges, sustainability, responsible platforms, AI and the knowledge society. Our aim is to bring researchers and practitioners with a mutual interest on these topics together, exchange ideas, and make research more visible, applicable and impactful.


To participate in the event, please register using the form below. You will receive the login details on the day of the event.


Eine Anmeldung ist für diese Veranstaltung aktuell nicht möglich.

Event date

27.06.2023 | 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm ical | gcal


Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society,  Französische Straße 9,  10117 Berlin


Katharina Mosene

Researcher: AI & Society Lab


This high-profile lecture series thrives to develop a European perspective on the processes of transformation that our societies are currently undergoing.


Once a month we publicly discuss the impact of digitalisation on the society. Therefore we invite special guests and engage in a dialogue with the audience.


Be the first to learn about our new events and exciting research results.