Fair patterns for online interfaces

29 January - 2 February 2024

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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Dark patterns, or deceptive design, are present on an overwhelming majority of digital services: they do not only clutter the interfaces of websites and mobile applications, but they are also widespread in emerging technologies such as voice assistants that provide personalized recommendations. The inherited risk of manipulation is destined to grow in a society where AI-based digital services, as well as IoT and robotic devices increasingly assist humans in all sorts of decision-making and domains, including in medical treatment, research and education.
Dark patterns cause manifold harm, primarily on human autonomy, since they influence, and even subvert, users’ decision-making in digital settings. They also cause financial loss, privacy invasion, behavioral addiction and discrimination, and also have repercussions on healthy competition and individuals’ trust in the digital market.

Current legislations that regulate consumer products, personal data, AI and digital services are rife with prohibitions to the use of manipulation in user interfaces. Moreover, several stakeholder guidelines  exemplify the unfair design practices that businesses should abstain from. However, with the emergence of new legal instruments such as the Digital Services Act (DSA), one sees a turn towards positively framed obligations that not only require to refrain from using dark patterns, but also demand that interfaces be designed in a fair way i.e, fair design patterns. But what do fair design patterns look like, then? How might they be implemented in digital services and be compliant at the same time, while upholding business needs?

This workshop brings together legal, human-computer interaction and economic experts coming from academia, businesses and enforcement agencies. Thanks to a hands-on program, interdisciplinary keynotes and cutting-edge evidence ranging across various domains, we intend to produce the following outcomes:

- a library of fair design patterns that takes into account applicable laws, business interests and UI/UX requirements
- guidelines for their implementation in different contexts
- a shared transdisciplinary vocabulary on complex concepts, such as digital fairness, manipulation types and autonomy 
- an intersectoral community concerned with manipulative design that collaborates on joint projects and other activities to spark the field and devise concrete solutions to dark patterns.


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