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AISB opportunities Bulletin Item

Two PhD student positions and two postdoctoral positions for logic in AI, Utrecht, THE NETHERLANDS

Two PhD and two postdoc positions in logic for AI - Utrecht University

Deadline for application: February 1st, 2014

For the ERC consolidator project "Responsible Intelligent Systems" (REINS) we 
are looking for 2 PhD students and 2 postdocs to be employed in the division of 
artificial intelligence at the department of information and computing 


The REINS project aims to provide a framework for automating responsibility, 
liability, and risk checking for intelligent systems. As intelligent systems 
are increasingly integrated into our daily life, the division, assignment and 
checking of responsibilities between human and artificial agents become 
increasingly important. From robots in medicine, the military and 
transportation (self-driving cars); to automated trading agents on the 
financial markets (algotrades); to automated monitoring, prediction and 
protection systems (pacemakers, automated surveillance, early warning systems); 
we delegate more and more responsibility to intelligent devices. By delegating 
responsibilities to intelligent devices, we run the risk of losing track of our 
indirect legal and moral liabilities.

Sub-project 1: "Logics of Collective Responsibility"

Vacancies: 1 PhD student (4 years), 1 postdoc (2 or 3 years)
Starting date: March 1st, 2014 (later dates may be negotiated)
Goal: Suitable logical representation languages for individual and collective 
Scientific context: computer science, philosophy, logic, artificial

The "Logics of Collective Responsibility" sub-project undertakes the 
formalization of the concept of responsibility, with a focus on the 
generalization of existing formal theories to the collective case. The concept 
of responsibility is highly non-trivial. It has been the subject of extensive 
debates in philosophy and legal theory and revolves around issues like free 
will, moral luck and collective action. In our opinion the conceptual and 
philosophical complexities involved in the understanding of the notion of 
responsibility ask for the clarity and expressivity of logical formalizations. 
While for the case of individual responsibility several formal languages have 
been proposed, for the case of collective responsibility, the logic literature 
is lacking concrete suggestions. The key objective in this sub-project is to 
fill this knowledge gap.

Sub-project 2: "Grades of Responsibility relative to Normative Systems"

Vacancies: 1 PhD student (4 years), 1 postdoc (3 years)
Starting date: March 1st, 2014 (later dates may be negotiated)
Goal: A logic theory of grades of responsibility relative to normative systems
Scientific context: computer science, legal theorie, deontic logic, artificial 

In the "Grades of Responsibility relative to Normative Systems" sub-project we 
will develop systems of formal deontic logic in relation to classes of 
responsibility (as developed in sub-project 1) and probabilistic, possibilistic 
or evidence-based action. The possibility to model actions and events using 
probabilities has been investigated in the area of Markov Decision Processes 
and in Bayesian Networks. However, in the context of deontic reasoning, actions 
with uncertain effects have not been considered. Yet it is very natural to 
think of having responsibilities relative to a normative system as having to 
optimize the chance to obey obligations and having to avoid the risk of 
violations. We can even make a stronger claim: responsibility typically only 
shows in normative contexts where uncertainty and risk play a central role. The 
project aims to combine existing theories on responsibility, risk-taking action 
and deontic logic with existing theories of probabilistic, possibilistic or 
evidence-based reasoning.

*Utrecht University*

Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study 
success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are 
centred around four themes: Sustainability, Life Sciences, Youth & Identity, 
and Institutions. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and 
contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.

*Faculty of Science*

The Faculty of Science consists of six departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical 
Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry 
and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 3500 students and nearly 2000 staff and 
is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty's 
academic programmes reflect developments in today's society.

*Department of Information and Computing Sciences*

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and 
internationally well known for its fundamental research in computer science and 
as an initiator in the area of game technology. The department's research 
activities are clustered into four divisions, viz. Virtual Worlds, Artificial 
Intelligence, Interaction Technology, and Software Systems. The Department of 
Information and Computing Sciences offers educational bachelor programs in 
computer science and information science, and four (English) research master 
programs, viz. Game and Media Technology, Computing Science, Business 
Informatics, and Artificial Intelligence. Three years ago the Department 
introduced a track on Game Technology in the bachelor program in computer 
science, which led to a substantial annual increase of bachelor students. The 
bachelor programs are the largest computer science and information science 
programs in the Netherlands

*Division Artificial Intelligence*

The division Artificial Intelligence comprises the chairs Intelligent Systems, 
Decision Support Systems and Algorithmic Data Analysis. Together these groups 
cover a broad spectrum of subjects in Artificial Intelligence, ranging from 
symbolic logic approaches to sub-symbolic evolutionary approaches; from agent 
programming to machine learning; from knowledge discovery to knowledge 
representation; from Bayesian networks to applied algorithmics for AI.

*Job Description*

Candidates are expected to:
- complete and defend a PhD thesis within the nominal time-frame (applies only 
to PhD candidates);
- assist in the supervision of the PhD student in the sub-project (applies only 
to postdocs);
- regularly present intermediate research results at our internal colloquium 
and at international workshops and conferences;
- collaborate with the other researchers in the REINS project;
- participate in the organization of research activities and events such as 
conferences, workshops and symposia;
- Assist in teaching tasks and/or take on teaching responsibilities

*Conditions of employment*

PhD candidates are offered a full-time position for 4 years. Salary starts at  
2,042.- and increases to  2,612.- gross per month in the fourth year of the 
appointment. The salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an 
end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition we offer: a pension scheme, a 
partially paid parental leave, flexible employment conditions. Conditions are 
based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. More information 
is available on:

Postdoc candidates are offered a position for 2 or 3 years. The positions are 
full-time, but part-time (80%) employment is negotiable. The gross salary 
depends on qualifications and experience and ranges from  2,919 to  3,831 per 
month. (Salary scale 10) The salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% 
and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition we offer: a pension 
scheme, a partially paid parental leave, flexible employment conditions. 
Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. 
More information is available on:

*How to apply*

Candidates are invited to send (1) a motivation letter, (2) a CV, (3) the email 
address of a referee, and (4) a published paper (for postdocs) or a master 
thesis plus grades (for PhD candidates) by following the instructions on the 
vacancies page of our faculty 
or on the vacancies page of our departement 
Deadline for applications is february 1st, 2014. For any further information on 
the project or the vacancies one can contact dr. Broersen at email address or professor John-Jules Charles Meyer at email address