PhD in philosophy and ethics of technology

Updated: 6 months ago
Deadline: 17 May 2023

PhD in philosophy and ethics of technology
PhD in philosophy and ethics of technology
Published Deadline Location
today 17 May Eindhoven

Job description
Content generation technologies, like ChatGPT and DALL-E, are disrupting important aspects of social life surrounding authorship, creativity, and more.  TU/e in affiliation with the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies (ESDiT) research consortium is looking for a PhD student to research the social and ethical dimensions of content generation technologies. 
Job Description
Technologies have historically changed how we conceptualized the interlocking concepts of originality and creativity and of authorship and ownership. For example, in the oral tradition it was the person telling the story that mattered, not so much the story itself. With the invention of the printing press, stories became artifacts that are trademarked, owned, and sold. Such concepts were again disrupted by technologies like genetically modified food and practices like music sampling and peer-to-peer network sharing.
Today content generation technologies (CGT) are further upending concepts of originality - creativity and authorship - ownership. AI driven GPT-3 can create text and formulate arguments. Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), such as DALL-E 2, can produce realistic artworks in the style of particular artists. Next to conceptual disruptions, CGT also raise many ethical issues surrounding ownership of intellectual property, trustworthiness and overreliance, and reproduction of human biases in GPT-3 generated texts.
This PhD project takes a critical look at the way CGTs affect the interrelated concepts of originality and creativity on the one hand, and authorship and ownership on the other, and explore the ethical implications of CGT and AI-supported acts of creativity and authorship.
You will have the ability to shape the project in a unique way that matches your interests and background. We see several different paths that would make for a successful project. Perspectives from ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, and legal and political philosophy, feminist philosophy, and non-western traditions are all welcome.
We are looking for someone who has a background in the ethics or philosophy of technology broadly construed and is motivated to engage with local artists, educators, and policy makers affected by content generation technologies.
You will be embedded within the Philosophy and Ethics group in the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences at TU/e. The Philosophy & Ethics department at TU/e ( is a vibrant international community, consisting of around 30 members (including 8 PhD students) with research interests ranging from philosophy of science and technology to ethics and the philosophy of AI. We have strong cooperation with other departments and the new Eindhoven Articial intelligence. Systems Institute (EAISI)( ). The PhD's will also be affiliated with the new center for AI and Philosophy at TU/e.  TU/e is part of the 4TU Ethics consortium (, where we cooperate closely on research and education of students (TU/e, Delft, Twente, Wageningen).
You will be part of ESDiT research community. Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies (ESDiT) is a 10-year long (2020-2030) international research program of 7 academic institutions in the Netherlands (TU/e, TUDelft, Utrecht University, UMC Utrecht, University of Twente, Leiden University, and Wageningen University & Research). ESDiT engages in breakthrough research at the intersections of ethics, philosophy, technology, engineering and social sciences. The consortium has over 100 researchers (PhDs, postdocs, professors, doctors) working on themes in the ethics and philosophy of technology in the Netherlands. ESDiT comes with unique mentoring and career development opportunities for PhD students in the program.
The project will be supervised by Patrik Hummel, Emily Sullivan, and Philip Nickel.
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • Eindhoven View on Google Maps

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

  • A master's degree (or an equivalent university degree) in philosophy.
  • A research oriented attitude.
  • Ability to work in a team and interested in collaborating with artists and industry stakeholders.
  • Fluent in spoken and written English.

Conditions of employment
A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale 27 (min. €2,541 max. €3,247).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process .
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.

Additional information
About us
Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands-on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow. 
Curious to hear more about what it's like as a PhD candidate at TU/e? Please view the video.
More information
Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact Philip J. Nickel ,Associate Professor, Eindhoven University of Technology, p.j.nickel[at]  or +31 40 247 3726.
Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact H. Buijs-Palmen, HR-Advice IE&IS,  j.b.huijs.palmen[at] or +31 40 247 9111.
Are you inspired and would like to know more about working at TU/e? Please visit our career page .
We invite you to submit a complete application by using the 'apply now'-button on this page.
The application should include a:
  • Cover letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae and the contact information of three references.
  • Brief description of your MSc thesis.
  • One-page motivation statement, elaborating on your ideas for this project
  • Writing sample

We look forward to your application and will screen it as soon as we have received it. Screening will continue until the position has been filled.
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