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University of Potsdam Looks Forward to a Third Humboldt Professorship – Award for AI and Law Expert Prof. Sandra Wachter

Media information 13-06-2023 / No. 055

Prof. Dr. Sandra Wachter
Photo : privat
Prof. Dr. Sandra Wachter

Technology law expert Sandra Wachter, currently a professor at Oxford University, has been awarded a Humboldt Professorship and will be joining the University of Potsdam to carry out research and teach. The professorship is endowed with 3.5 million EUR and awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with funding provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Sandra Wachter is a researcher working at the interface of law, computer science, and social science and is one of the founders of the research field of explainable artificial intelligence (AI). In her research, she looks at how AI and other new technologies can be regulated and made fairer and more transparent. As a Humboldt Professor at the Digital Engineering Faculty, a joint faculty of the Hasso Plattner Institute and the University of Potsdam, the scientist will take over the Chair for Artificial Intelligence. Wachter is to contribute to the development of ethical AI law expertise in business and society in Germany and to strengthen Potsdam's international competitiveness with her cutting-edge research on AI regulation.

"With her highly interdisciplinary profile, which includes academic degrees and research work in technology, social sciences, and law, Sandra Wachter has already become a world-class AI expert at a young age. I am very pleased that we were able to get her on board for the University of Potsdam," says President Prof. Oliver Günther, Ph.D. "With her contributions, we want to further establish ourselves internationally in the field of AI and its applications – and to continue making our mark with regard to the research profile of the Digital Engineering Faculty, which we run jointly with the Hasso Plattner Institute. And by the way, this extraordinary appointment also underlines the excellent performance of our Digital Engineering Faculty, which was founded in 2016 and remains a unique structure worldwide."

Sandra Wachter holds a doctorate in law with a focus on technology law and regulation and an additional qualification in the social sciences. Her research on the ethical and legal implications of new technologies, especially AI, is groundbreaking and offers approaches to solving practical problems, many of which have been incorporated into legislation and corporate processes. It therefore makes a significant contribution to preventing discrimination through AI and to safeguarding human rights, data protection, and consumer protection.

"It's hard to put into words what an honor it is to be awarded a Humboldt Professorship," Sandra Wachter says. "I am overwhelmed by the fact that I received this research award. And then to also be given the opportunity to conduct research and teach at the University of Potsdam and HPI is such an incredible privilege! The University of Potsdam and HPI stand for innovation, drive, and putting science into practice and I am looking forward to working with the researchers and students there."

After completing her doctorate at the University of Vienna in 2016, Sandra Wachter initially moved on to the UK, first to the Alan Turing Institute in London and then to Oxford University in 2017, as a postdoctoral research fellow. In 2019, she became an associate professor and, in 2022, the Professor of Technology and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute.  She has received an O²RB Excellence in Impact Award twice, most recently in 2021 for her significant international impact on law, policy, and business practice with regard to the ethical use of artificial intelligence. She was among the TOP 50 women in Computer Weekly's UK Tech Rising Stars. In 2020, she was a finalist for the AIconics Award in the Innovator of the Year category. She is also a member of the Advisory Board for Oxford University Press and the "IT Security, Privacy, Law, and Ethics" working group at the German platform for AI “Lernende Systeme" funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Subject to the approval of the university’s boards and committees and the successful conclusion of the appointment negotiations, Prof. Wachter will come to Potsdam in 2025 to begin her work at HPI.
The award ceremony will take place in 2025.

Contact: Dr. Silke Engel, Spokesperson of the University
Phone: +49 331 977-1474
E-Mail: presseuni-potsdamde

Photo: Prof. Dr. Sandra Wachter Photo: private

Media information 13-06-2023 / No. 055