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Three PhD students (4-year positions) in Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data (PROTECT Network)

News | 06-05-2019 11:59



The Department of Philosophy of the University Twente in the Netherlands is looking for three PhD students (4-year positions) in Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data (PROTECT Network): 

PhD position 1: “Ethics of personal data from online mobile, wearable and social media for e-health and lifestyle applications”

PhD position 2: “Ethical implications of using AI and big data to analyse speech, text and video images of individuals”

PhD position 3: “The ethical management of private data in the online environment”


Position 1: Ethics of personal data from online mobile, wearable and social media for ehealth and lifestyle applications
Online mobile applications and wearables collect sensitive physical and behavioral data of their users that can be used in e-health and lifestyle applications. When linked with social media data, machine learning can reveal surprising insights about individuals and their circle of friends, family and neighbors. The objective of this position is to develop a systematic ethical analysis of issues associated with personal data collected from online mobile, social media and wearables for e-health and lifestyle applications. To do this, you will rely on philosophical analysis, and potentially other methods, to investigate ethically relevant impacts of new personalization, data collection, and personal data analytics technologies. In addition, the position has two stimulating and timely practical aims. The first is to find out whether the use of innovative foresight methods, as part of the technology assessment of ehealth and lifestyle applications, can improve our anticipation of their future developments and ethical impacts. The second is to make recommendations for the ethical design of relevant technologies and accompanying policies. Within this position you will have significant freedom in making the topic your own and selecting your own research questions, theories, and methods. We encourage innovation.

Your principal supervisor for this position will be dr. Yashar Saghai, assistant professor in philosophy and ethics of technology at the University of Twente. Prof. dr. Philip Brey will also supervise you. This position includes two (supported) two-months secondments (i.e., periods during which you will work from another institution): the first at Dublin City University with prof. Bert Gordijn, director of the Institute of Ethics; the second at the Rathenau Institute in The Hague with prof. Barend van der Meulen, Head of Research. There will also be opportunities for secondments and shorter stays at leading tech companies and policy organizations.


Position 2: Ethical implications of using AI and big data to analyse speech, text and video images of individuals
In recent years, very powerful techniques have emerged for analysing human speech and texts, as well as video images with humans in them. The combination of big data and artificial intelligence makes it possible to recognize humans in private and public spaces, analyse their behaviour, make inferences about their personality, emotions, intentions, and other psychological traits, and track them. The objective of this position is to analyse the ethical implications of advanced natural language, speech and video analytics and machine learning techniques and their application to the processing and analysis of personal data and to personalization applications. It is also possible to focus on just one of the areas (text/speech or video/images). This is an exciting new area in which little ethical analysis has been done so far. The candidate will perform an analysis of key ethical issues relating to these techniques, involving several case studies, and will also study implications for organizational policies and public policy. Within this position you will have significant freedom in making the topic your own and selecting your own research questions, theories, and methods. We encourage innovation.

Your principal supervisor for this position will be prof. dr. Philip Brey, full professor in philosophy and ethics of technology at the University of Twente. This position includes two (supported) two-months secondments (i.e., periods during which you will work from another institution): the first at Trinity College Dublin with prof. dr. Linda Hogan, professor in ethics; the second at the Rathenau Institute in The Hague with prof. Barend van der Meulen, Head of Research. There will also be opportunities for secondments and shorter stays at leading tech companies and policy organisations.


Position 3: The ethical management of private data in the online environment
The ethical problems arising from private data on digital platforms are becoming increasingly recognised, from the Snowden revelations to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This project will investigate approaches to ethically managing such data. The project will deliver a systematic ethical assessment of the diversity of privacy and related issues that are associated with the collection and storage of various personal information by websites. Ethical assessment will focus on similarities and differences in privacy and related expectations regarding different types of personal information (from browser behaviour to video selfies), modes of collection and storage, and the purposes for which they are or could be used. This will be based in part on consultations of stakeholders and their values and preferences regarding privacy and related issues, as well as responsible innovation, such as open source and gender issues. This will provide an analysis of the proper division of labour between privacy policies and technological protections offered by the various approaches considered. Within this position you will have significant freedom in making the topic your own and selecting your own research questions, theories, and methods. We encourage innovation.

Your principal supervisor for this position will be prof. dr. Kevin Macnish, assistant professor in philosophy and ethics of technology at the university of Twente. Prof. dr. Philip Brey will also supervise you. This position includes two (supported) two-months secondments (i.e., periods during which you will work from another institution): the first at Trinity College Dublin with prof. dr. Linda Hogan, professor in ethics; the second (three months) is at Castlebridge in Wexford, Ireland, with mr. Daragh O’Brien. There will also be opportunities for secondments and shorter stays at leading tech companies and policy organisations.

Deadline for applications' submissions: Saturday 25 May, 2019, 23:59 via www.utwente.nl/vacatures/en


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