Umeå University, Faculty of Arts

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest institutions of higher education with over 35,000 students and 4,200 faculty and staff. We are characterised by world-leading research in several scientific fields and a multitude of educations ranked highly in international comparison. Umeå University is also the site of the pioneering discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors - a revolution in genetic engineering that has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

At Umeå University, everything is nearby. Our cohesive campus environment makes it easy to meet, collaborate and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture where we rejoice in each other's successes.

The Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies is looking for a Postdoctoral Researcher in Philosophy or Ethics for a project on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and user self-determination. The employment period is two years full-time (100%). 

Job description
The postdoc is expected to conduct philosophical research on the impact on user self-determination (autonomy) from the design of current and potential future AI. The output may include both single and co-authored publications, some of which may be multi-disciplinary, involving collaboration with researchers in computer science and political science.

The postdoc is also expected to contribute to a case study of how the design of assistive AI impacts on user self-determination (on different conceptions of this concept). The case study may involve computer simulations, but no such previous knowledge or experience is required. 

The position is one of eight positions within the research project Artificial Intelligence - Destroyer or Enabler of Democracy and Self-determination, led by Professor Virgina Dignum. Collaboration with other members of the research project is expected, in particular with Associate Professor Kalle Grill, co-PI in the research project.

The project is part of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP-HS). The program is initiated and generously funded by the Wallenberg Foundations. The vision of WASP-HS is to achieve excellent research and competence on the ethical, economic, labor market, social and legal aspects of Artificial Intelligence. For more information about the research and other activities conducted within WASP-HS please visit

The selected candidate is expected to contribute to the development of the local research environment by actively participating in the departmental activities, such as research seminars and workshops. Certain limited administrative tasks related to research activities may also be required. Conference travels etc. are funded.

Qualifications and assessments
A person who has been awarded a doctorate or a foreign qualification deemed to be the equivalent of a doctorate is qualified for employment as a postdoctoral researcher. A doctoral degree in either philosophy or other relevant field with a focus on ethics is required for this position. A precondition for being employed is that the applicant must not previously have been employed as a postdoc at Umeå University for more than a year within the same or equivalent discipline. The degree must be completed no more than three years before the closing date of the application unless special circumstances exist. Special circumstances include absence due to illness, parental leave or clinical practice, appointments of trust in trade union organizations or similar circumstances.  

Research merits will be of primary importance in the evaluation of applicants, followed by the quality and feasibility of a brief statement of research interests and ideas relevant for the position. Priority will be given to applicants with published research on either self-determination (autonomy, liberty, authenticity, etc.) or emerging technologies, in particular but not exclusively AI. Previous experience of multi-disciplinary work is a significant merit. 

Good writing and oral communication skills in English, as well as good ability to work with others, are requirements for this position.  

The application must be written in English and include the following documents:  

(1) A letter of interest explaining your motivation for applying for the present position (1-2 pp)
(2) Curriculum Vitae and validated copies of degree certificates (date of thesis defense and its title, current and previous positions, grants, awards, research collaborations)
(3) A full publication list with electronic copies of 3-5 of the most relevant works, the PhD thesis included
(4) A brief statement of the research interests and ideas relevant to the tasks described for the position (2-4 pp)
(5)  A list of 2-3 reference persons including their positions and contact details 

The application is to be submitted via e-recruiting system Varbi, no later than October 15th, 2019. 

Further information
The postdoc is a two year full-time position (100%) starting on the January 1st, 2020 unless otherwise agreed. The selected candidate is required to be present on-site in Umeå to a high degree. 

There are currently fewer female than male lecturers and researchers in philosophy, and we therefore especially encourage applications from female candidates. 

For more information about the employment, contact Associate Professor Kalle Grill (+46-90-786 68 07, or Head of Department Jonas Nilsson (+46-90-786 99 90,  

For information about the department, see Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.  

We look forward to receiving your application!

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2020-01-01 unless otherwise agreed
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-1167-19
  • Jonas Nilsson, Head of Department, +46 90-786 99 90,
  • Kalle Grill, Associate Professor, +46 90-786 51 63,
Union representative
  • SACO, +46 90-786 53 65
  • SEKO, +46 90-786 52 96
  • ST, +46 90-786 54 31
Published 26.Aug.2019
Last application date 15.Oct.2019 11:59 PM CET

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