Research Fellows at Australian National University

A new postdoc position in cognitive science is available at Australian National University. The initial contract for this position is 5 years and posible to extend. Applications are welcome before January 31, 2019.

Classification: Academic Level B

Salary Package: $98,009-$111,365 per annum plus 17% superannuation

Term: Full time, fixed term (3 years, possibility of extension to 5 years) with proposed start date July 2019

We are seekingworld-class scholars to join a team of computer scientists, philosophers, andsocial scientists, to lead the world in moral AI. We will identify where AI canbe maximally socially beneficial, removefoundational obstacles in moral AI's path,and design algorithmic decision-making systems that reliably make defensiblechoices.

The ANU is launching a major new project on Humanising Machine Intelligence, uniting philosophers, computer scientists, and social scientists in the pursuit of a more ethical future for AI and Machine Learning.

Machine intelligence is already used in innumerable applications that, while not explicitly morally-loaded, have clear and profound social implications, from facial recognition, to the distribution of online attention. It is also used to support decisions that have explicit moral dimensions, for example about how to allocate welfare resources, and whom to grant bail or parole. And the application of MI in fully autonomous decision-making systems (robotic and otherwise) is picking up pace. Self-driving vehicles, autonomous weapons systems, and companion robots are the first wave of such systems; many more are on the way. Many companies and governments are also heavily invested in developing more general, multipurpose forms of AI. All of these autonomous systems must be able to make morally-loaded decisions by themselves.

In each of these fields inadequate attention to ethics in the design of MI systems will predictably have negative social consequences, some of which could be catastrophic. The goal of the HMI project is to forestall those risks, and help to realise the tremendous social benefits promised by MI. The project has three components: (1) Discovery: formulate the design problem by identifying the social risks and opportunities of widespread reliance on MI. (2) Foundations: identify and answer the fundamental theoretical questions on which progress towards ethical MI depends. (3) Design: develop ethical algorithms and broader MI systems in partnership with industry and government.

The HMI project chief investigators are: Associate Professors Seth Lazar (Project Leader), Colin Klein and Katie Steele (Philosophy), Professors Marcus Hutter, Sylvie Thibaux, Bob Williamson and Lexing Xie (Computer Science), Dr. Jenny Davis (Sociology), Associate Professor Idione Meneghel (Economics), and Professor Toni Erskine (Political Science).

We are looking for up to eight talented researchers to help us humanise machine intelligence. Our primary criterion is demonstrated research excellence in a discipline area relevant to the project, and the clear potential to be research leaders in their disciplines and in the field of moral AI. An interdisciplinary background is not required, but successful applicants will be ready and equipped to engage with scholars from other disciplines, and are expected to work actively with scholars from at least two of the project's discipline areas.

Successful applicants will help us design the next generation of more ethical MI systems, in part through publishing internationally influential research in the leading peer-reviewed venues (as suited to their discipline). We expect them to go on from the ANU to leading positions in academia and industry. As well as conducting research at the highest level, they will help build the HMI community at ANU and globally, through convening a regular seminar series and international workshops.

Three of the new research positions will be based in the School of Philosophy. Within this discipline area, we strongly encourage applications from people with PhDs in philosophy, with a background working in any relevant subfield, such as, but not restricted to: moral philosophy, especially formal ethics, political philosophy, decision, rational choice, social choice, and game theory, philosophy of science, philosophy of cognitive science and neuroscience, philosophy of language, formal epistemology. Prior experience working on machine intelligence is advantageous but not required.

Though these positions will be housed in the School of Philosophy, we strongly encourage anyone who meets the selection criteria to apply, regardless of disciplinary background.

Candidates who meet the selection criteria for this position may also submit applications to the other postdoctoral positions advertised here

For all enquiries please contact

In order to apply for this role please make sure that you upload the following documents;


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