Umeå University, Computing Science

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Wallenberg Artificial Intelligence Program PhD Student Position
Research topic: Computational models for socially aware AI

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 social aware AI. Deadline for application is May 31, 2019.

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 Socially Aware Artificial Intelligence group (led by prof. Frank Dignum) conducts research into AI systems that start from the premise that AI is used in social contexts and should be aware of the social consequences of its behaviour. For this purpose the group investigates (formal) models of social concepts and their implementation in AI systems ranging from social robots to social simulations and multi-agent systems. The group collaborates with several national and international research groups, and has active links with industry and policy organisations. For more information on Frank Dignum see

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 create socially aware AI systems we need a good understanding and computational models of social reality. I.e. we need to know how things like norms, conventions, organizations, etc. influence the behaviour of individuals and how they are adapted by their use as well. Computational models of these social concepts will thus contain at least aspects related to their consistency (society perspective), their flexible use by individuals (cognitive perspective) as well as their emergence and adaptation (interaction perspective). All of these aspects have to be incorporated and linked in the computational model. This will require the use of multiple modelling techniques and formal connections between them.

The aim of this project is to develop computational models of the social concepts that form the basis for socially aware AI systems. It should be possible to use parts of it for agent based social simulations, but also for social robotics. The theoretical foundations will be based on existing work from our group. In order to test the usability of the developed models we aim to have at least one use case related to social simulation or social robotics.

About the position

The position is intended to result in a doctoral degree and the main task of the PhD student is to pursue their doctoral studies which include both participation in research and postgraduate courses. The duties can include teaching and other departmental work (up to a maximum of 20%). Employment is limited to four years of full-time or up to five years for teaching part time. Salary is set in accordance with the established salary ladder for PhD position. Expected starting date is 1st of September 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 of formal logics and AI techniques. Demonstrable knowledge of multi-agent systems and agent based simulation or social robotics is a prerequisite. In particular, candidates should be well acquainted with modelling and implementing social concepts like norms and conventions.
We particularly invite female candidates to apply to ensure gender balance.
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 May 31, 2019. Reference number: AN 2.2.1-414-19. 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 2.2.1-407-19.
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. The recruitment aims at a balanced gender distribution, and in particular women are encouraged to apply.
For additional information, please contact Prof. Frank 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 otherwise agreed
Salary Monthly
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-414-19
  • Frank Dignum, professor, 090-786 91 01
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 16.Apr.2019
Last application date 31.May.2019 11:59 PM CET

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