Skip to main content Skip to main navigation


On the Quest for Effectiveness in Human Oversight: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Sarah Sterz; Kevin Baum; Sebastian Biewer; Holger Hermanns; Anne Lauber-Rönsberg; Philip Meinel; Markus Langer
In: Proceedings of the 2024 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency. ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (ACM FAccT-2024), June 3-6, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Pages 2495-2507, ISBN 979-8-4007-0450-5, Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 2024.


Human oversight is currently discussed as a potential safeguard to counter some of the negative aspects of high-risk AI applications. This prompts a critical examination of the role and conditions necessary for what is prominently termed effective or meaningful human oversight of these systems. This paper investigates effective human oversight by synthesizing insights from psychological, legal, philosophical, and technical domains. Based on the claim that the main objective of human oversight is risk mitigation, we propose a viable understanding of effectiveness in human oversight: for human oversight to be effective, the oversight person has to have (a) sufficient causal power with regard to the system and its effects, (b) suitable epistemic access to relevant aspects of the situation, (c) self-control, and (d) fitting intentions for their role. Furthermore, we argue that this is equivalent to saying that an oversight person is effective if and only if they are morally responsible and have fitting intentions. Against this backdrop, we suggest facilitators and inhibitors of effectiveness in human oversight when striving for practical applicability. We discuss factors in three domains, namely, the technical design of the system, individual factors of oversight persons, and the environmental circumstances in which they operate. Finally, this paper scrutinizes the upcoming AI Act of the European Union – in particular Article 14 on Human Oversight – as an exemplary regulatory framework in which we study the practicality of our understanding of effective human oversight. By analyzing the provisions and implications of the European AI Act proposal, we pinpoint how far that proposal aligns with our analyses regarding effective human oversight as well as how it might get enriched by our conceptual understanding of effectiveness in human oversight.

Weitere Links