Understanding Society

Tilburg University has been a reliable provider of high-quality education and research for more than eighty years. We specialize in the social sciences and humanities and we seek to make a structural contribution to society.

TILT seminar by Laurens Naudts

Topic: The Articulation of Fairness in Machine Learning: Justice, Equality and Data Protection.


Machine Learning techniques guide decision-making processes in a varying but gradually growing number of contexts, ranging from everyday activities, e.g. shopping advice, to key societal ventures, e.g. law enforcement. These data-driven approaches inherently differentiate between individuals and groups of individuals however. Since they affect amongst others the information, resources and the opportunities that are granted to individuals, the fairness of algorithmic differentiation and its consequences in terms of equality have been questioned. Within this context the  seminar will discuss how theories of justice have informed, and are important for informing future, developments and research within the field of  ‘fair’ machine learning. The presentation will consider current fair machine learning approaches and whether they are sufficiently adequate in dealing with the ethical concerns generally associated with machine learning. After this preliminary assessment, it will be discussed how theories of justice could contribute towards future fair machine learning efforts. In particular, the seminar will assess how they could facilitate the further articulation of fairness in an algorithmic environment, not only with regard to the design of machine learning techniques, but also with regard to the contextual changes machine learning techniques might generate once they are deployed in an actual environment. Finally, a preliminary evaluation will be made whether the substantive and procedural mechanisms in data protection law, through its focus on the underlying data processes, can provide starting points for a regulatory framework capable of mitigating possibly unfair outcomes of algorithmic differentiation.


Laurens Naudts is a Doctoral Researcher and researcher in law at the KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law. His research interests focus on the interrelationship between artificial intelligence, ethics, justice, fairness and the law. Laurens’ Ph.D. research reconsiders the concepts of equality and data protection within the context of machine learning and algorithmically guided decision-making. As a researcher, Laurens has also been actively involved in several national and EU funded (FP7 and H2020) research projects, including inter alia iLINC, Preemptive and currently VICTORIA, Video Analysis for Investigation of Criminal and Terrorist Activities.

Laurens was formerly appointed as a researcher at the European University Institute (Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom) where he performed scientific research for the project "Strengthening Journalism in Europe: Tools, Networking, Training". E-mail: laurens.naudts@kuleuven.be

Registration is free, but please register via Ghislaine van den Maagdenberg: g.vdnmaagdenberg@tilburguniversity.edu

Location: M 1003

When: 13 November 2018 12:00

End date: 13 November 2018 13:30