PhD Scholarship in Informatics at University of Gothenburg

Applicants are invited to apply for a PhD position in artificial intelligence at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The funds for this fellowship are available for four years. The deadline to apply is January 29, 2020.

We invite applications for one PhD student placement in Informatics to work on the project "Fair, accountable, and transparent methods for trustworthy machines". The position will be located at the Department of Applied Information Technology, IT Faculty. Informatics is a design-oriented subject in the area between technology and social science. The research within the subject is aimed at developing theories and concepts to describe, understand and develop IT use, but also to design innovative applications in different areas. Topics in informatics focus on aspects of design, organization and use of IT at both an individual, organizational, and social level.

At the Department of Applied Information Technology development of the individual's knowledge and ability to analyze, understand and handle the digitalization of society, different aspects of IT,interaction between people and interaction between people and technology areat focus.

Our research and postgraduate education is conducted in a wide area linked to the digitalization of society, which ranges from Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, and digital innovation via Internet of Things, mobile communication and robots to IT in schools and teaching.

Our researchers are successfully in receiving research funding and has many different national and international research projects ongoing.

We have approximately 30 doctoral students in the areas of informatics, IT and learning, cognitive science and communication. The doctoral program is affiliated to the research school in educational science at the University of Gothenburg (CUL) and the national research school in Management and IT (MIT). Each year, an internal two-day doctoral conference is held. The department is located at the knowledge-intensive Lindholmen, and has a well-developed collaboration with both business and public sector as well as the civil society.

The Division of Informatics consists of approximately thirty researchers who work specifically on issues related to digital innovation, open innovation, digital platforms and digitalization of the public sector. The researchers are regularly published in international top journals.

All teaching at the division’s program, Master in Digital Leadership and the Bachelor’s programme System Science reflect the strong research environment. In both research and education, the division has a long tradition of working closely with industry and the public sector. The division hosts the Swedish Center for Digital Innovation, SCDI, and also offers contract teaching. The PhD placement is attached to the Wallenberg Foundation funded project Professional Trust and Autonomous Systems. The aim of this project is to generate insights in to how trust in machine learning is accomplished through social learning by documenting how issues of accountability are identified and managed, and whether/how trust is re-established among professionals situated in the medical domain. The project to be completed during the period of the PhD position connects to this theme by focusing on methods for achieving trustworthiness and transparency in algorithms as this is highly pertinent to the discussion about professional accountability.

Alongside the rapid adoption of algorithmic systems in various contexts there are also growing concerns regarding the power of algorithms to shape human experience and influence decisions with major consequences. With the many benefits promised by autonomous systems also comes risks and deep-seated problems. One of the responses to this challenge can be seen in the 'FAT*' concept which refers to the notions of Fairness, Accountability and Transparency. The Association for Computing Machinery now organizes the yearly ACM FAT* interdisciplinary conference dedicated to bringing together a diverse community of scholars from computer science, law, social sciences, and humanities to investigate and tackle issues in this emerging area. This research seeks to develop and evaluate technical solutions with respect to existing problems, as well as to reflect on their benefits and risks.

The general assumption guiding research in this area is that if developers can build more transparent, interpretable, or explainable systems, users will be in a better position to understand and trust autonomous systems. This area covering explanations for automated decisions as well as interpretability and intelligibility for data-driven models is sometimes referred to by the moniker explainable Artificial Intelligence or 'xAI'. The work of achieving truly explainable AI however, is not something that can be reduced to a technical problem and contributions from the social sciences and humanities are central. Models for achieving explainable AI must be refined and extended to provide good explanatory agents, requiring computer scientists to work closely with researchers in such areas as philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, informatics, and human-computer interaction.

In the current discussion, methods for enabling human interpretation of autonomous systems broadly fall into two categories: First, transparency which is seen as the opposite of opacity or blackbox-ness, and second, post-hoc interpretability, which are methods for extracting information from machine learning models.

Regardless of the specific approach taken, reflexivity is duly needed to ensure that the research community works towards the normative and practical goals of rendering models holistically transparent or else providing quality post-hoc interpretations of model behaviour. In this regard, several critical questions must be posed. For example, will the methods developed make machine learning models more interpretable? Will they become trustworthy to users? In what ways are decisions regarding accountability enabled? And to whom will explanations be accessible, comprehensible, and useful?

The aim of the proposed PhD project is to address such issues. By documenting the application of methods for explainable AI in practical settings the candidate will study the normative and social questions that arise. As a PhD candidate, you will contribute to the overall project "Professional Trust and Autonomous Systems" while taking responsibility for the sub-studies that will form your dissertation. There the PhD candidate will be expected to present, implement and evaluate FAT* and/or xAI methods. Additional settings could also be included in the project. Your dissertation will consist of a series of sub-studies published in international venues.

The successful applicant will apply for admission to a third cycle education in informatics culminating in a PhD exam. This education runs for four years of full-time studies equivalent to 240 HEC, comprised of thesis work and academic education i.e. course work and literature studies. The individual research work that results in a written PhD thesis is expected to demonstrate an advance of scientific knowledge within the field of study.

The PhD student will perform their study under the supervision of a principal supervisor and one or more co-supervisors with the aim of developing the PhD student's methodological competency, analytical skills, and theoretical depth and width. The results of the study will be communicated in the form of scientific articles, conference presentations and a PhD thesis. To obtain a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, doctoral candidates must have written and verbally defended a doctoral thesis that has been passed at a public defence (disputation), and they must also have passed the courses and examinations that are included in the study plan.

This PhD placement is part of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program on Humanities and Society (WASP-HS). WASP-HS aims to realize excellent research and develop competence on the consequences and challenges of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems for the individual person and society. This 10-year program is initiated and generously funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (MMW) with 660 million SEK. In addition to this, the program receives support from collaborating industry partners and from participating universities.

WASP-HS includes an extensive national graduate school with up to 70 doctoral students, the creation of least ten new research groups across Sweden, support for twelve visiting professors to strengthen Swedish research and networking activities, and a number of research projects. For more information about the research and other activities conducted within WASP-HS, please visit

The WASP-HS graduate school provides foundations, perspectives, and state-of-the-art knowledge in the different disciplines taught by leading researchers in the field. Through an ambitious program with research visits, partner universities, and visiting lecturers, the graduate school actively supports forming a strong multi-disciplinary and international professional network between PhD students, researchers and practitioners in the field. It thus provides added value on top of the existing PhD programs at the partner universities, providing unique opportunities for students who are dedicated to achieving international research excellence with societal relevance.

Selection between applicants who meet the requirements will be based on an assessment of an applicant's ability to successfully complete the doctoral programme. We are looking for a strongly motivated person who can work independently, but who is also well equipped for collaboration in this multidisciplinary project. Given the project aims, its meritorious with qualifications in the social sciences as well as data science.

Only individuals who have been admitted to doctoral studies can be employed as a PhD student.

Regulations regarding employment as a PhD student can be found in the ordinance SFS 1993:100. Initial employment as a PhD student may have a maximum length of one year. The employment may then be extended for maximum of two years a time. A person may be employed as a PhD student for a maximum of eight years in total. The total time of employment may not exceed what is equivalent to four years of fulltime doctoral studies.

In addition to undertaking doctoral education, the PhD student may be required to fulfil duties relating to education, research and administrative work, in accordance with the regulations of the Higher Education Ordinance. Such work cannot, before a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy has been conferred, exceed 20% of a fulltime position.

The university applies the local agreement on salaries for PhD students when setting salaries.

The placement of the admitted and employed PhD studentwill be at The Department of Applied Information Technology.

The scope of the employment of PhD students is 100 % of fulltime. The planned start date for the position is August 1st 2020 or according to agreement.

The selection, interview and assessment will be undertaken by a local recruiting group.

Those candidates that will be invited to an interview will also be asked to read a scientific article and then write a critical appraisal in English that relates the article to the project goals. This text will also be considered in the admission process.

Applications are evaluated by an admissions panel with the admission decision made by the head of department. This decision cannot be appealed.

- Regarding the PhD placement please contact Jonas Ivarsson, Senior Lecturer: +46766182473,

– Regarding the appointment procedure, please contact Emil Fgerwall dman, Human Resources Officer, +46 31 786 29 04 Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg:

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.

The University of Gothenburg promotes equal opportunities, equality and diversity.

Applications will be destroyed or returned (upon request) two years after the decision of employment has become final. Applications from the employed and from those who appeal the decision will not be returned.


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