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PhD Candidate in socially acceptable AI

Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW is one of Switzerland’s largest multidisciplinary universities of applied sciences, with over 13,000 students and 3,000 faculty and staff.

As one of the leading Engineering Faculties in Switzerland, the ZHAW School of Engineering emphasises topics which will be relevant in the future. Our 13 institutes and centres guarantee superior-quality education, research and development with a focus on the areas of energy, mobility, information and health.

The Institute for Data Analysis and Process Design, in cooperation with the Department of Informatics of the University of Zurich is looking for an outstanding candidate, starting April 2020, as: PhD Candidate in socially acceptable AI

PhD Candidate in socially acceptable AI

Your responsibilities are

  • contribute to the SNF-funded research project “Socially acceptable AI and fairness trade-offs in predictive analytics in recruitment and education/training”
  • develop theoretically founded and practically tested methods to enable developers to create fair algorithms
  • develop and test IT-based teaching methods to educate fairness to students and IT practitioners

The objective of our research project is to develop a methodology to facilitate the development of fairness-by-design approaches for AI-based decision-making systems. We link philosophical concepts of fairness, human perception of fairness, and algorithmic measures of fairness into a holistic approach. The goal is to enable developers to create algorithms that are socially acceptable and synchronized with the ethical values of the affected stakeholders.

You will work as a part of an interdisciplinary research team including philosophers, social scientists and data scientists. In addition to the needed scientific research, the project will have an important practical component, involving collaboration with companies as well as with students. Interest and ability in working in such an environment is mandatory. You will have the possibility to be involved in teaching activities at the ZHAW School of Engineering.

The successful candidate has an excellent MSc in Computer Science, Data Science or a related field, with very good knowledge and experience in statistical and machine learning methods for modeling and prediction. She/he has strong quantitative skills, a solid background in statistics and data analysis, and good programming skills (Python, R, UI). Good communication skills, in particular in the context of non-tech users of AI (such as management, HR specialists) are required. We expect keen interest on teaching fairness to both Computer Science students and practitioners in companies. Already existing teaching experience is a benefit. Very good English language skills are mandatory, fluency in German would be a strong asset.

The position is limited to 4 years. You will be a member of the PhD Network in Data Science, a cooperative PhD program of ZHAW, the University of Zurich, and other academic institutions. At the same time, you will be part of the PhD program of the Digital Society Initiative of the University of Zurich. As the research team is distributed between ZHAW and University of Zurich, there is ample opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration. The PhD degree will be issued from the University of Zurich (Department of Informatics).

The project is an excellent opportunity to develop qualifications and experience in different disciplines at the cutting point of AI and ethics. You will develop a solid scientific background, but also be involved in the application in business practice and teaching.

Do you have any questions about this position?
For more information regarding the vacancy, please contact Prof. Dr. Christoph Heitz, Tel. +41 58 934 78 16, Email: christoph.heitz@zhaw.ch or visit for further information www.zhaw.ch/idp/

Are you interested? If you would like to apply, please use the online platform to send us your complete application (including publications, one page summary of your MSc degree and contact information for two references), attn. Esther Huber, HR Consultant, at Winterthur.

ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften