2-Year Postdoctoral Position in Applied Ethics Focus: Artificial Intelligence-Driven Changes in Work/Production Processes

Updated: about 1 month ago

26.06.2020, Wissenschaftliches Personal

Tim Büthe, professor of political science & public policy and Chair for International Relations at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is inviting applications for a 2-year full-time postdoctoral position in applied ethics. The postdoctoral fellow will work with a small interdisciplinary team on the "human preference-aware optimization" project launched by Tim Büthe with TUM engineering professor and Chair for Logistics Johannes Fottner and funded by the TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (https://ieai.mcts.tum.de).

Project Summary "A Human Preference-Aware Optimization System"
Industry 4.0 allows companies to gather vast amounts of data from the shop floor to their global value chains. Modern machine learning techniques make it possible to use these ever more detailed data to optimize work and production processes. Full implementation of artificial intelligence for such optimization is currently still limited, but expected to spread rapidly across all industries.
AI-based analysis and optimization of work and production does not just hold the promise of efficiency gains but also will allow employers to assess individual employees’ behavior and productivity in unprecedented detail. Such use of AI has prompted concerns regarding a loss of autonomy in the workplace and attendant reductions in occupational health and safety due to increased stress levels from constant monitoring. Excessive transparency about work performance might also result in ethically problematic changes in power relationships in the workplace.
This project seeks to make two main contributions:  First, combining theoretical and empirical analysis, we seek to identify more precisely the consequences of current (and the "conventional" envisioned) AI use to better assess the ethical and political, as well as practical and economic effects of such AI use. Second, in light of preliminary finding that current use models typically seek to achieve optimization by subordinating the preferences and needs of employees under the (broadly) technology-driven "needs" of the production process, we seek to develop an alternative approach to AI use, which inverts these priorities in what we call a human preference-aware optimization system. Such a system would non-invasively gather information about employees' preferences and needs and use it in AI-driven data analysis with the objective of optimizing the processes, adjusting the work flow to suit the employee's preferences and strengths. Intelligent, preference-aware optimization systems would assist employees and management (e.g., via the assignment of tasks) in a way that is respectful of individual differences and can safeguard and maybe even strengthen employee autonomy.

Your qualifications:
We are looking for a pro-active, self-motivated postdoctoral scholar with strong training in ethics, interested (and ideally experienced) in bridging normative theory and empirical work, as well as a proven ability to work independently and as part of a team.  The postdoctoral fellow – who may start in late summer or fall 2020 – will be expected to mostly be in residence in Munich, so as to be an active, regular participant in the intellectual life at the Hochschule für Politik/TUM School of Governance and the Chair for Logistics Research, including through occasional presentations of his/her own work.  This is a research-only position (there might be an opportunity to teach a course in the second year).  The postdoctoral fellow will have access to travel/conference funds and support from a research assistant.
Our offer:
The position will be limited to two years. Payment will be based on the Collective Agreement for the Civil Service of the Länder (TV-L). TUM strives to raise the proportion of women in its workforce and explicitly encourages applications from qualified women. Applications from disabled persons with essentially the same qualifications will be given preference.

Your application:
Review of applications will begin on Monday, 6 July 2020, and will continue until the position is filled.  To apply, please send the following materials electronically to ir-chair@hfp.tum.de:

  • cover letter that gives a sense of your scholarly and career interests, including your reasons for applying for this particular position, indicating inter alia when you hope to start;
  • current CV (curriculum vitae, incl. list of publications);
  • a short description of research plans for the next two years beyond your work on the project (1-3 pages);
  • transcripts providing specific information about all of your university-level coursework and/or a list of courses that is informative about your substantive and methodological preparation, including the level at which each course was taken and the grade obtained;
  • if not readily apparent from the official transcripts: documentation of all degrees obtained;
  • an analytical writing sample, preferably published (in English or German);
  • 2 letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant's qualifications for postdoctoral work (in English or German).  Letters should be sent directly by the recommenders or a portfolio service.  Letters are not required for the initial consideration of an application, but at least two letters will be required before an offer can be made.

Please send all application materials, except for the letters of recommendation, in one email.  Recommenders should send their confidential evaluations directly, from their institutional email accounts to ir-chair@hfp.tum.de or by mail to:

Prof. Dr. Tim Büthe
Hochschule für Politik/Bavarian School of Public Policy
Richard-Wagner-Str.1
D-80333 Munich, Germany

Strong ability to communicate in spoken and written English is required; the ability to communicate in German is valuable but not required; please indicate your proficiency.

Data Protection Information:
When you apply for a position with the Technical University of Munich (TUM), you are submitting personal information. With regard to personal information, please take note of the Datenschutzhinweise gemäß Art. 13 Datenschutz-Grundverordnung (DSGVO) zur Erhebung und Verarbeitung von personenbezogenen Daten im Rahmen Ihrer Bewerbung. (data protection information on collecting and processing personal data contained in your application in accordance with Art. 13 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)). By submitting your application, you confirm that you have acknowledged the above data protection information of TUM.

Kontakt: Prof. Dr. Tim Büthe (ir-chair@hfp.tum.de )


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