Winners

Nava Tintarev winner of Mekel Prize 2019

Decision models that break through filter bubbles most socially responsible innovation at TU Delft

Researcher Dr. Nava Tintarev from the EEMCS Faculty (Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science) has won the Mekel Prize 2019 for the most socially responsible innovation at TU Delft: on decision models that break through filter bubbles. The prize was awarded on 21 November during the Van Hasselt Lecture in the Oude Kerk Delft. Tintarev was given a statue of Professor Jan Mekel and €1.500,- to spend on further research.

Decision-making at individual, business, and societal levels is influenced by online content. Filtering and ranking algorithms are used to support these decisions. However, the design of many of these systems may lead to information silos and filter bubbles, for example in the media. Filter bubbles potentially undermine our democracy, but there are also technologies that might help to overcome them.

About the picture: dr. Nava Tintarev (left) receives the statue of Prof Mekel from Prof. dr. ir Ibo van der Poel

Algorithms
Tintarev’s project is aimed at devising algorithms that helps to break through filter bubbles. Instead, it tries to present people with a diversity of viewpoints. One of the solutions Tintarev came up with is the design of an interface that helps to present different viewpoints better. She has developed this technically innovative tool in close dialogue with the media industry.

Critical thinking
The project scored well on all the criteria of  the jury. According to the jury chaired by Rector Maginficus Tim van der Hagen: ‘It addresses a societal challenge, that we might all recognise. If on social media like Facebook we click on news stories that we like, we are more likely to get similar stories in the future. And we are less likely to get news that contradicts our opinions and beliefs. Social media thus tend to reinforce our opinions and to reduce opposing voices. Tintarev’s innovation not just aims at presenting the news better, but contributes to critical thinking as well.’

About the Mekel Prize
The Mekel Prize is awarded to the most responsible innovation at the TU Delft. Over the past few years, responsible innovation has become a central concern in innovation policy and the funding of R&D programs like the Horizon 2020 and the NWO MVI program. Responsible innovation may be defined as aligning research and innovations with the needs and values of society. With this prize, the university wishes to increase awareness of the ethical aspects of technological developments and emphasise the role of researchers and designers in incorporating these aspects.

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