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Algorithms and artificial intelligence are playing an increasing role in public decision making. In this video, PASCAL LANGENBACH analyzes the ways in which this aspect of digitalization affects perceptions of fairness. Looking at the contexts of predictive policing, school admissions and refugee location, Langenbach examines four different procedural models ranging from situations where human actors decide alone to scenarios in which human actors are not able to overturn decisions presented by the algorithm. The findings show that people perceive the fairest model as one in which humans come to a decision together with an algorithm, but remain highly involved in the decision-process. The research shows that computerization can help to bring about cost savings in public decision making but further studies are required to show how this can work more efficiently in practice.


Pascal Langenbach is a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn. His work focuses on public law, empirical legal studies and experimental law and economics. A winner of the Max Planck Society’s Otto Hahn Medal in 2018, for 2020-2025, Langenbach is a member of the Young Academy at Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences.


Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Initially founded as a Max Planck institute that investigates the provision of collective goods, the ­institute has developed into an international hub that focuses in its research mainly on applied economics and on behavioral law. Moreover, the institute hosts three independent research groups on “moral courage”, “economic cognition”, and “mechanisms of normative change”. The set of researchers from various disciplines, such as economics, law, psychology, and sociology, constitutes a truly interdisciplinary environment that facilitates a cross-fertilization of ideas. 

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Original publication

Fair Governance with Humans and Machines

Hermstrüwer Yoan and Langenbach Pascal
Published in 2022