#rp24 speaker Ferda Ataman: When algorithms reinforce injustices

25.04.2024 - The Independent Federal Anti-Discrimination Commissioner talks about digital discrimination at re:publica 24.
Ferda trägt ein Jackett und sitzt in einer Stuhlreihe.

Do you need a loan but are turned down because an algorithm has decided that you are too old? Or you don't get a job because an algorithm has linked your data to a lower probability of success? Welcome to the world of digital discrimination, where prejudice is pre-programmed and technology is beginning to disadvantage us: From AI in medicine to self-driving cars.

Digitalisation makes many things easier - unfortunately also discrimination, says Ferda Ataman: "While digitalisation has brought us many conveniences, from online shopping to networked household appliances, it also has a dark side: machines can reinforce and exacerbate social injustices. For example, if there are hardly any women in certain roles, AI will not create them either. The Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz (General Equal Treatment Act) prohibits discrimination in everyday life. But what if the discrimination originates from the computer?" The political scientist will address these and other questions in her #rp24 session.

Ferda Ataman has been the Independent Federal Anti-Discrimination Commissioner and Head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency since July 2022. She previously worked for several years at the Ministry for Intergenerational Affairs, Family, Women and Integration in North Rhine-Westphalia and as Head of Division at the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. She has also worked as a book author, journalist and columnist for publications including Der Spiegel, Tagesspiegel and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg and set up “Mediendienst Integration”, a scientific information platform for journalists. Most recently, she founded a consultancy firm for diversity. At the same time, Ferda volunteered in associations for more diversity in the media and equal participation in society and was a member of the advisory board of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. In 2019, she published her book "Hört auf zu fragen. Ich bin von hier" (Stop asking. I'm from here) about belonging in Germany.

At #rp24, we look forward to Ferda's exciting input on the topic of digital discrimination.


#WhoCares: An interview with Ferda Ataman.

The motto of re:publica 24 is "Who cares?". Who or what do you care about right now?

Groups that are particularly affected by discrimination: Older people, younger people, people affected by racism and anti-Semitism, people with disabilities, queer people, Muslims and other religious groups. In other words, all 83 million people in Germany.

What are we not taking enough care of as a society?

Protection against discrimination. All people have the right to participate. This must not remain a theory.

Is there a book that has inspired you?

The book "Die gereizte Frau" (The Irritable Woman) by Miriam Stein, with which she wants to bring the topic of the menopause out of the taboo zone.

Digitale Diskriminierung: Wenn Algorithmen Ungerechtigkeiten verfestigen

Ferda Ataman

Willkommen in der Welt der digitalen Diskriminierung, wo Algorithmen Vorurteile einprogrammiert haben und Technologie beginnt, uns zu benachteiligen. Von KI in der Medizin, die nur Männern hilft, bis zu selbstfahrenden Autos, die Schwarze Menschen nicht erkennt und nicht bremst.
Participation & Access
Stage 2
Forum Digitalpolitik