5 PhD positions in Socially Intelligent Artificial Intelligence

Updated: 4 months ago

The University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Free University of Amsterdam (VU University), the City of Amsterdam and the Ministry of Interior Affairs are opening a new research lab called Civic AI Lab (CAIL). The new lab will focus on developing advanced AI technology that promotes economic and social human rights, such as the right to health, education and employment, while respecting fundamental human rights such as non-discrimination and equality.

The Civic AI Lab  is part of ICAI, the national Innovation Centre for AI, and is situated within the larger Amsterdam data science and artificial intelligence ecosystem, which includes Amsterdam Data Science, and AI technology for People, an initiative designed to help the city of Amsterdam develop and deploy responsible data-driven AI technology that serves people working in health business innovation and citizen support.

For our new lab, we are seeking 5 PhD candidates interested in creating intelligent systems that serve people and society. Systems that are fair, that respect differences between people in factors such as language, customs, lifestyle, etc., and that promote inclusive social and cultural environments. In particular we are looking for PhD candidates who value socially-relevant, practice-informed and interdisciplinary FACT* AI research, teaching and outreach in the areas of:

  • project A: Education (Algorithms for preventing unwanted machine behavior in distribution of educational resources);
  • project B: Health care (Predictive modeling and analytics in healthcare based on differential and causal fairness measures);
  • project C: Wellbeing (Improving well-being predictions and intervention through actionable explanations);
  • project D: Environment (Predicting social, environmental and health inequalities using street imagery and explainable deep vision models);
  • project E: Mobility (Tackling mobility poverty and inequality with socially aware AI).

What are you going to do?

As part of the Civic AI Lab, all five projects mentioned above focus on the development of AI systems that highlight the inequality of opportunity in society, actively increase the prospect of equality of opportunity and offer the possibility of recourse to enable fair and inclusive outcomes. You are going to:

  • develop original and novel methods in the fields of machine learning and data science within the context of one of the five research domains;
  • collaborate with data scientists and other researchers at the University of Amsterdam and the Free University of Amsterdam;
  • exchange knowledge with data scientists and civil servants at the City of Amsterdam and Ministry of Interior Affairs;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at international conferences and workshops, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
  • assist in relevant teaching activities and participate in socio-technical and ethical-legal validation of AI concepts developed by AI start-ups and companies;
  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within 4 years.

We strongly encourage applications coming from a unique perspective. Tell us how your background fits with the aims of the lab.

What do we require?
  • You have a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science or a related field;
  • you have experience in machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, data management and software programming (using Java, Python or other languages);
  • you have strong communication, presentation and writing skills and an excellent command of English;
  • you are technologically aware and socially engaged, highly motivated and creative.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 18 months. The initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.
The salary will be €2,395 to €3,061 (scale P) gross per month, based on a full-time contract of 38 hours a week. This is exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities  is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here .


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • Sennay Ghebreab , Associate professor

About the Faculty of Science and the Informatics Institute

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The mission of the Informatics Institute is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. Main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

The Informatics Institute strives for a better gender balance in its staff. We therefore strongly encourage women to apply for this position.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 1 October 2020. You can apply online by using the link below.

Applications in a single PDF file should include:

  • a cover letter, including a description of your research interests and an explanation why you are applying for this position (at most two pages);
  • a detailed curriculum vitae (cv);
  • a list of all Master-level modules you have taken, with an official transcript of grades;
  • a link to a writing sample available online, such as a Master’s thesis, a term paper, or a publication (in case of joint authorship, please clearly indicate your own contribution);
  • the names, affiliations, and email addresses of two or (at most) three people who can act as references for you.

Please do not send letters of reference or proofs of your academic writing.

Late or incomplete applications will be considered at the committee’s discretion.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews in the last two weeks of October.

No agencies please

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