(Design) Researcher Ethical Design of AI in the Smart City

Updated: 5 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 31 Aug 2022

For the Research Project Human Values for Smarter Cities, situated at the research group of Civic Interaction Design, faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries, The Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is looking for a 

(Design) Researcher Ethical Design of AI in the Smart City (0,6-0,8 FTE) 


Together with companies, governments, designers, cultural institutions and students, the Civic Interaction Design research group at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences explores how the design of interactive experiences, digital platforms and online services can contribute to public life. How can public values ​​concerning democracy, diversity and sustainability be anchored in an emerging network or platform society?  

For its newly funded applied research project Human Values for Smarter Cities, the Civic IxD  research group is searching for a (postdoc) design researcher. The project will run from 2022-2026, and it addresses the embedding of public values (e.g. transparency, accountability) into the design of responsible smart city and A.I. services in Dutch cities. The project is carried out in close cooperation with the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft, the AMS Responsible Sensing Lab (Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions) and various partners such as the municipalities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. 

Research project Human Values for Smarter Cities 

Developers, designers, and professionals working in urban management have started to realize that implementing A.I. in urban life poses numerous ethical challenges. This has resulted in policy papers calling for human and public values in tech development, ethics guidelines for trustworthy A.I., and cities for digital rights.  

Yet, so far implementing the ethical values expressed in these documents has been full of challenges. Public administrators find it difficult to translate abstract values like transparency into concrete specifications to design new AI services. In the private sector, developers and designers still lack a ‘design vocabulary’ and exemplary projects that can inspire them to respond to transparency and accountability demands. Finally, both the public and private sectors see a need to include the public in the ethical debate around A.I. but haven’t found the right methods.  

The Human Values for Smarter Cities research project has the ambition to answer to these challenges by contributing to the development of an integrated, value-based and multistakeholder design approach for the ethical implementation of A.I. systems in Dutch cities. It does so by setting up a research-through-design trajectory to develop a prototype for an ethical ‘scan car’, as a concrete and urgent example for the deployment of computer vision, Applied AI and algorithmic governance in public space. The focus in the research project is on the design process: what does it take to design an ethical government smart city service? 

The Position 

The postdoc researcher will work in a multidisciplinary team and function as the lead researcher. (S)he will closely work with a senior researcher from the Civic Interaction Design research group at AUAS, a project manager, and contributors from partner organizations such as Waag, Tapp, and the Cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Facilities are also available at the Responsible Sensing Lab at AMS. The project will be supervised by lector Martijn de Waal (AUAS) and Gerd Kortuem, Professor Internet of Things at TU Delft. 

Your role in the project consists of setting up, running, and analyzing a series of design-sessions / experiments that contribute to the larger goal of the design of an ethical scan car. These sessions are organized with partner organizations and consist of participatory processes aimed at elicitating ethical values at stake, the concretization of these values into a design, as well as the evaluation or contestation of the actual designs. You report on the outcomes of these sessions in both academic work such as conference papers, as well as in output that is aimed at professionals in policy and design. Think of creating, for example, a 'design canvas', a white paper or series of webinars. Taken together, the outcomes of these sessions should inform an integrated design approach for the ethical design of smart city and A.I. city services. 

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