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Postdoc in Ethics of autonomous vehicles

The Philosophy Section of the University of Twente in the Netherlands is looking for a Postdoc (20-month position) in ethics of autonomous vehicles, with special attention to ethical analysis of human factors in trust in autonomous vehicle as part of a large European project on ethics of emerging technologies.

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The Challenge

The principal aim of this postdoc will be to develop ethical guidance tools for the assessment of trust in autonomous vehicles, to help engineers, designers, regulators, civil society organizations, and researchers in assessing the trustworthiness of autonomous vehicles, and of different components and elements in autonomous vehicle systems. This will involve, amongst others, the development of a ‘trust relationship tool’ that allows actors to identify trust relationships that exist, or are likely to emerge, between key stakeholders in autonomous vehicle systems. This tool will complement technical assessments of trust in autonomous vehicles by looking at human and social factors in trust.

This postdoc project will also develop a novel approach to the ethical assessment and guidance of autonomous vehicle systems, which will build in part on the abovementioned tools. Autonomous vehicles, and the social-technical systems that support them, must factor in values like privacy, explicability, and human agency in addition to values like human safety, efficiency and so on. The postdoc will draw from an Ethics by Design approach to show how values like privacy, explicability, and human agency can increase the overall trustworthiness of a particular system. In seeking to make an autonomous vehicle system trustworthy, it must take into account a range of different values, and may need to make tradeoffs between these values. The postdoc will work closely with other members on the project to see how technical aspects of trust are being built into the system, and to what this means for developing a system that is worthy of human and social trust.

Additional time will be devoted to project coordination and research dissemination tasks. This will involve writing reports for the project (often together with others), and you will also have some time to work on academic publications.


The CONNECT Project

The CONNECT Project for Continuous and Efficient Cooperative Trust Management for Resilient Cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) is a prestigious three year project international project funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe program. It has a budget of €6 million, and will start in September 2022. It has 17 participating institutions, including the University of Twente. The project is led by the Technikon Forschungs- Und Planungsgesellschaft MBH in Austria (Coordinator Ms Lisa Burgstaller).

CONNECT addresses the convergence of security and safety in CCAM by assessing dynamic trust relationships and defining a trust reasoning framework based on which involved entities can establish trust for cooperatively executing safety-critical functions. This will enable both a) cyber-secure data sharing between data sources in the CCAM ecosystem that had no or insufficient pre-existing trust relationship, and b) outsourcing tasks to the MEC and cloud in a trustworthy way. This is quite technical, looking at specific factors and features that allow for relationships between CCAM elements and components to assess and respond to other components as trustworthy or not. However, autonomous vehicle systems also require that humans find the system to be trustworthy, and that the system is itself worthy of that trust.

CONNECT seeks to not just design trust into the autonomous vehicle systems, but to find ways to assess and assure human users, designers, regulators, and so on, that the system is worthy of that trust. The project will draw from the more technical elements of trust to see and show that a range of values are necessary for a system to be trustworthy.

The postdoc will engage in ethical analysis, some legal analysis, and stakeholder engagement activities. The project will develop/refine/extend (as desirable and applicable to the three technologies) existing/proposed ethics frameworks, operational guidelines or Codes (e.g., developed in SIENNA, SHERPA, PANELFIT, SATORI and other projects) to enable the effective ethics governance of the technologies. It will reconcile the needs of research and innovation and the legitimate concerns of the society while stimulating innovation and reducing ethical risks. To do so, it will especially engage with researchers and innovators, research ethics committees (RECs), research integrity (RI) bodies, civil society organisations (CSOs), policy makers and the public.

YOUR PROFILE

You have a PhD in ethics, applied ethics, or a related field. In addition, you:

  • are familiar with issues in ethics by design, particularly autonomous vehicles, AI, cyber-physical systems or related, and have some familiarity with issues around privacy, expliciability in AI, or human agency and AI;
  • are familiar with approaches in ethics of technology, research ethics, and responsible research and innovation (RRI)
  • are interested in multidisciplinary collaboration;
  • have good analytical skills;
  • have good English language skills, both written and spoken;
  • have good social and communication skills in academic as well as non-academic contexts;
  • have an interest in policy and the practical applications of ethics;
  • are able to work independently, but also motivated to collaborate with others, including project participants and stakeholders from different countries and with different backgrounds

OUR OFFER

A 20-month or 19th full-time postdoc position, starting October 1st, 2022. Funding for this position is available until 30-03-2024.  The gross salary is € 3.420,- to € 5.230,- per month, depending on experience. On top of this, you receive a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus.  You will have a budget for traveling to TechEthos workshops and to international conferences.  We offer excellent auxiliary terms of employment, such as professional and personal development programs; a secondary remuneration package; a dynamic environment with enthusiastic colleagues; and an organization focusing on internationalization and a high degree of responsibility and independence.

 

INFORMATION AND APPLICATION

Your application should include the following documents:

  • a cover letter which explains your interest in the position and your qualifications for it;
  • a curriculum vitae which includes the name and e-mail address/telephone number for at least two references.
  • a writing sample (preferably a published article related to the position);
  • either a summary and table of contents of your dissertation or the entire dissertation.

Applications should be uploaded via application link below. The application deadline is July 1, 2022. Interviews will be held about one week after this date. Since only three documents can be uploaded per application, please combine documents if needed.

A copy of the project proposal is available upon request.

Your collaborators at the University of Twente in this project will be Prof. Philip Brey and Dr. Adam Henschke. Prof. Brey is full professor in philosophy of technology, with a focus on ethics, and has published a lot on ethics of information technology.  Dr Henschke is assistant professor in ethics of technology, and has published extensively a range of applied ethics areas, including ethics of cyber-physical systems, autonomous vehicles, and cybersecurity. For further information you can contact Dr. Adam Henschke,

 

ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT

The philosophy section at the University of Twente (https://www.utwente.nl/bms/wijsb/) is internationally leading in the philosophy and ethics of technology. It has 39 members.  At a recent research evaluation of philosophy programs in the Netherlands, it ranked highest in the area of ethics and practical philosophy. The department currently includes eight tenured/tenure-track staff members, three postdocs, seven PhD students, and several part-time faculty. The department participates in and directs the interuniversity 4TU.Center for Ethics and Technology (www.ethicsandtechnology.eu). Both the department and the Center have a strong international orientation and include members from many different nationalities. The department’s research has a strong focus on ethics of emerging technologies and their impact on society (including information and communication technology and robotics, biomedical and neuro technologies and environmental technologies), the philosophy and ethics of human-technology relations, and the philosophy of engineering and social science.

 

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION

The Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a key role in understanding, jointly developing and evaluating innovations in society. Technological developments are the engine of innovation. As a technical university that puts people first, we tailor them to human needs and behavior and use social engineering to integrate them into society. We also ensure adequate governance at public and private level, and robust, inclusive and fair organizational structures. We do this by developing, sharing and applying high-quality knowledge in Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Sciences, Philosophy, Educational Sciences and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines revolves around tackling and solving societal challenges. The research programs of BMS are closely linked to the research of the UT institutes Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, TechMed Center and Digital Society Institute.

As an employer, the Faculty of BMS offers work that matters. We equip you to create new possibilities for yourself and for our society. With us, you will become part of a leading technical university with increasing, positive social impact. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial atmosphere, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example through our flexible, adaptable benefits.

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