PhD position: Culturally and Socially Responsible AI

The Faculty of Humanities is looking to fill one PhD position in the area of Culturally and Socially Responsible AI.

At the University of Amsterdam, the Research Priority Area Human(e) AI synthesises ongoing work and stimulates new research on the societal consequences of the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making (ADM) in a wide variety of societal areas. These include news aggregation, cultural heritage, surveillance, and automated justice and cover fundamental research questions in history, sociology, law, ethics, communication, economics, medicine and psychology. The goal of the RPA is to enable Humane AI: AI and digital technologies contributing to new forms of knowledge production, understanding new forms of agency and intersubjectivity, enhancing cultural and socio-economic equality, improving fairness and respect for fundamental rights in decision-making both in the public and commercial sector, and realizing opportunities for digital citizenship.

Project description

This project focuses on the development and implementation of AI technology that respects the values central to public institutions in the area of media and culture. Core research themes revolve around public values, e.g. diversity and inclusivity, investigating how technology can deal with biases in data, account for multiple perspectives and subjective interpretations and bridge cultural differences. The impact of AI on media and culture is studied from a socio-technological perspective. The project may focus on one or more use cases, for example in public broadcasting, media archiving, or other relevant public institutions and other relevant related research questions. The PhD candidate will contribute to the research on the impact of AI on media in the AI4Media network of research excellence centres funded by the European Commission.

The successful candidate will be appointed in the department of Media Studies and based in the creative environment of the CREATE Lab for digital humanities research. They will work within the broader Humane AI community at the University of Amsterdam via the RPA Human(e) AI. Depending on the profile of the chosen candidate, their research time will be allocated at the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture or the Institute for Language, Logic and Computation.

The candidate is expected to:

  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official employment duration of four years;
  • regularly present research results at international workshops and conferences, and to publish them in conference proceedings and journals;
  • participate in and to contribute to the organisation of research activities and events at the RPA Humane AI, such as workshops and colloquia;
  • participate in the Faculty of Humanities PhD training programme;
  • teach courses at bachelor’s and/or assist at master’s level in the 2nd and 3rd year (0.2 FTE per year).


We are looking for candidates who, by the date of appointment, hold a Master’s degree in the humanities or social sciences and demonstrate a strong interest in digital technology and its impact on media and culture. In addition, candidates for this position demonstrate excellent skills in qualitative and quantitative social science methods, including surveys and interviews. Furthermore, candidates should possess:

  • outstanding research qualities, manifested in a high-quality Master’s thesis and possible also publications or contributions to conferences/workshops;
  • excellent written and spoken English;
  • good writing and presentation skills;
  • keen interest in interdisciplinary research methods and approaches;
  • the ability to conduct socio-technical research through surveys and/or ethnographic methods
  • ability and willingness to work in a team;
  • willingness to travel abroad for research stays, conferences and project expert workshops;
  • strong social and organizational skills.

Our offer

The recruited PhD candidate will be employed in the department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Humanities. You will be employed for 48 months for 38 hours per week – 1 FTE (including 0.2 teaching in the second and third year of the employment contract) under the terms of employment currently valid for the Faculty. Initially, a contract will be given for 12 months, with an extension for the following 36 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation after 9 months. The intended starting date is 1 April 2021. The gross monthly salary will be €2,395 during the first year to reach €3,061 during the fourth, based on 38 hours per week. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Further information

For further information regarding the PhD position or the application procedure, you are welcome to contact one of the supervisors:

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.

Please submit your application in a single PDF file (not zipped). Your application must consist of the following:

  • A detailed letter of motivation, stating why you want to carry out this particular research project and why you are the right candidate for this position (no more than 1,000 words);
  • A writing sample, for example an essay or chapter from your Master’s thesis (if in a language other than English, a summary of 250-500 words)
  • A Curriculum Vitae outlining all relevant experience;
  • A list of all Master-level modules you have taken, with an official transcript of grades;
  • The names and contact details of two or (at most) three referees familiar with your academic record and research skills.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the week of 15 February and may be requested to provide additional materials.

Please quote vacancy number 20-785 in your cover letter.

Submit your application no later than 29 January 2021 via the link below and use the CV field to upload the PDF file specified above. Only applications that conform to these instructions are ensured full consideration by the search committee. In particular, please do not submit more than one file.


No agencies please