Umeå University, Department of Computing Science

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Research topic: Software Engineering Methods for Responsible Artificial Intelligence

Umeå University, the Department of Computing Science, is seeking outstanding candidates for a Wallenberg Autonomous Systems Program (WASP) PhD student position in Computer Science with focus on software engineering methods for responsible artificial intelligence. Deadline for application is November 10, 2018.

The Department of Computing Science is a dynamic environment with around 100 employees representing more than 20 countries worldwide. We conduct education and research on a broad range of topics in Computing Science. The Social and Ethical Artificial Intelligence group conducts research into AI systems that meet their social responsibility, including the development of theories, models and tools for oversight, accountability and verification, and methods to analyse, design, measure and audit social implications The group collaborates with several national and international research groups, and has active links with industry and policy organisations. Visit more information.

The project is part of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP), Sweden’s largest ever individual research program, and a major national initiative for strategic basic research, education and faculty recruitment. The program is initiated and generously funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW) with 2.6 billion SEK. In addition to this, the program receives support from collaborating industry and from participating universities to form a total budget of 3.5 billion SEK. Major goals are more than 50 new professors and more than 300 new PhDs within AI, Autonomous Systems and Software. The vision of WASP is excellent research and competence in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software for the benefit of Swedish industry. For more information about the research and other activities conducted within WASP please visit
The graduate school within WASP 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 industry. 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 industrial relevance

Research project
In order to ensure Responsible Artificial Intelligence applications, we need to ensure that the development of AI systems is mindful of the consequences for individuals and societies, by anticipating the consequences of the design choices, reflect upon the problem being solved by engaging all stakeholders, and take appropriate action to ensure social, legal and ethical acceptability of the system.
Therefore, Responsible Design of Intelligent Systems concerns the methods and tools for design and development that ensure the analysis and evaluation of ethical, legal and societal implications.

The aim of this project is to develop an engineering process model by which ethical considerations can be addressed throughout the various stages of software system development. We will take as starting point Design for Values approaches and existing methods to identify and align the possibly conflicting values of all stakeholders. Application of these conceptual approaches to software engineering requires formal transformation and verification of abstract values into concrete software design requirements and computational functionalities in ways that are transparent, open for inspection and appropriately describe the chain of stakeholder involvement and responsibility. This is an important and urgent research area to make these approaches effective in designing responsible AI applications.

About the position
The successful applicant will be employed by Umeå University and receive a competitive salary for a period of four years of full time PhD studies, provided that the studies are progressing reasonably well. PhD students are typically offered the opportunity to gain teaching experience on suitable undergraduate courses. If so, the employment period is extended to cover the time spent on teaching (at most 20 %). Expected starting date is 1st of January 2019 or as otherwise agreed.

Admission requirements
The applicant is required to have completed a second- cycle level degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from overseas, or equivalent qualifications. To fulfil the specific entry requirements for doctoral studies in computing science, the applicant is required to have completed courses at second-cycle level degree equivalent to 60 ECTS credits in computing science, or in a subject considered to be directly relevant for the specialisation in question.

Candidates are expected to have very good knowledge in Artificial Intelligence and software engineering. Demonstrable knowledge of systems design and modelling, multi-agent systems, or software development is a prerequisite. In particular, candidates should be well acquainted with relevant engineering and algorithmic techniques which will be applied to develop design methodologies that account for social and ethical aspects of AI and ensuring responsible design and development.

Since research is conducted in an international research environment, the ability to collaborate and contribute to teamwork, and a very good command of the English language, both written and spoken, are key requirements.

A complete application should contain the following documents:

• A cover letter including a description of your research interests, your reasons to apply for the position, and your contact information
• A curriculum vitae
• If applicable, copy of completed BSc and/or MSc thesis and other original research publications
• Copies of degree certificates, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grades
• Contact information for two persons willing to act as references

The application must be written in English or Swedish, and attached documents must be written in or translated to English or Swedish. Documents must be in Word or pdf format. Applications must be submitted electronically using the e-recruitment system of Umeå University, and be received no later than November 10, 2018. Reference number: AN 2.2.1-1620-18. Log on to the system and apply via the button at the bottom of the web page.

Interested applicants are also encouraged to apply for the position with the reference number: AN 2.2.1-1620-18. 

The procedure for recruitment for the position is in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance (chapter 12, 2§) and the decision regarding the position cannot be appealed. We value the qualities that an even gender distribution brings to the department, and therefore we particularly encourage women to apply for the position.

For additional information, please contact Prof. Virginia Dignum

We look forward to receiving your application!

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2019-09-01 or as otherwise agreed
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-1620-18
  • Virginia Dignum, professor, 090-786 68 03
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 11.Oct.2018
Last application date 10.Nov.2018 11:59 PM CET

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