Scientific objectives

Project goals

Considering the importance of epistemic welfare for citizens and our democratic societies and the algorithms’ identified threats, are algorithmic gatekeepers undermining media’s contribution to epistemic welfare?

Our project is articulated around three key scientific objectives (SO):

SO1 Develop a conceptual framework for epistemic welfare and algorithmic gatekeepers.

Our aim is to connect various disciplines including communication science, computer science and law. Analysis of normative theories underpinning epistemic welfare will be followed by the analysis of the different actors relevant for epistemic welfare and their evolving power relations. The outcome will be a conceptual and measurement framework to analyse the effects of algorithmic gatekeepers.

SO2 Understand the effects of algorithmic gatekeepers on epistemic welfare.

The analysis will apply to how media companies implement algorithmic gatekeepers and develop discourses about them; and how audiences understand and experience algorithmic gatekeepers.

SO3 Develop instruments to align algorithmic gatekeepers with epistemic welfare

Based on the theoretical and empirical findings from the previous objectives as well as the legal and policy frameworks, we will develop operationalisation principles. Beyond that, we will develop an “epistemic welfare by design” approach to be applied at algorithmic gatekeepers’ and media companies’ levels.

1. In the conceptualization of the impact of algorithmic gatekeepers in media sectors, we expand the notions of media pluralism and consumer welfare to epistemic welfare.

2. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to connect media production, dissemination and use and the legal conditions.

3. While information and news are a core part of our research scope, we will include other media content. Our integrated approach will involve various perspectives, in particular those of the citizens, the media professionals, the algorithm designers and the policymakers.

4. By not only comparing different media sectors but also different media systems in two small and multilingual countries, ALGEPI will reveal similarities and differences in the responses of media organizations and policymakers to the growing dominance of online platforms.

5. By highlighting several components of epistemic welfare (transparency, trust, diversity, privacy, etc.), we will involve normative objectives in the analysis, design, and assessment of algorithmic gatekeepers. This will allow us to contribute to fostering algorithms’ positive impact.