Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel


understanding ALGorithmic gatekeepers to promote EPIstemic welfare

Project Description

Technological and economic developments have led to the availability of an overwhelming quantity of digital content. Therefore, it has become crucial, in particular for media content providers, to incorporate algorithmic gatekeepers, which filter, rank and recommend content. Are these algorithmic gatekeepers undermining media’s contribution to epistemic welfare?
In ALGEPI, we start from the novel concept of epistemic welfare, defined as the individuals’ right to know and be exposed to trustworthy, independent and diverse information while respecting individual rights to their own data. By connecting legal, political, technological and sociocultural perspectives, we will develop a conceptual framework for epistemic welfare.
This framework will allow us to understand the effects of algorithmic gatekeepers on epistemic welfare. The new interdisciplinary research program will build on multi-method empirical research applied to algorithmic gatekeepers. Thanks to the theoretical and empirical findings, we will be able to develop normative instruments to align algorithmic gatekeeping with epistemic welfare.
Taking the novel concept of epistemic welfare as a starting point allows all project partners to embark on a joint, integrated exploration of the concept. This may lead to a paradigmatic shift in the conceptualization of the impact of algorithmic gatekeepers in media sectors, proposing to expand the notions of media pluralism and consumer welfare to epistemic welfare.