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  • Full time
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  • Computer science
  • Technology


  • Phd

Apply by: 2022-07-15

PhD on 'Responsible Use of Data and AI in Social Security'

Published 2022-06-22

Decisions regarding social benefits are supported more and more by data-driven analyses and AI algorithms. The use of technology in this domain brings with it serious risks. The digital tools developed are often based on sensitive personal data and their outcomes can have serious consequences for citizens already in a vulnerable position. As such, it is important that these digital technologies respect central values of fairness, non-discrimination, privacy, and human dignity. The central challenge for this PhD position is to formulate design requirements that ensure that resulting technologies respect these core values.

The research will be conducted in close collaboration with the UWV. The UWV is one of the largest implementing organizations in the Netherlands. Employee benefits such as the WW, WAO, WIA and WAZO benefits are administered by it. The UWV determines whether an employee is entitled to one of these benefits based on the legal frameworks and determines the amount and length of the relevant benefits. As such, the UWV is an essential part of the social security system in the Netherlands and its decisions affect the quality of life for a significant part of society.
Therefore, it is important that the usage of sensitive personal data and digital technologies by the UWV is done responsibly. An important part of this PhD position is thus to apply the philosophical work that is done on values such as fairness and human dignity to the social security sector, and to formulate ethical requirements to be used in the ongoing projects at UWV. This work supports the new ethics committee at UWV, which oversees the (ethical) use of new digital technologies and is chaired by Jeroen van den Hoven, the promotor for this PhD position. 
This PhD position will additionally be part of the TU Delft Digital Ethics Centre, a recently founded centre of excellence on the intersection of philosophy and engineering. The goal for the centre is to facilitate philosophical research on epistemic and moral values that are relevant for responsible use of digital technologies, as well as on methodological issues regarding the embedding of values in digital technologies. The succesful candidate will also be part of the TPM, TU Delft and 4TU.Ethics Graduate Schools.

The successful candidate will work under the supervision of Jeroen van den Hoven (promotor) and Stefan Buijsman (daily supervisor). Stefan Buijsman and Jeroen van den Hoven are, respectively, assistant and full professor in ethics and philosophy of technology at TU Delft. They have worked among other things on design for values, the ethics of digital technologies, and on the explainability of AI systems.

  • You will have completed, prior to appointment, a Master's degree or equivalent degree in moral or theoretical philosophy, with a background (ideally BSc) in Computer Science. Other Master's degrees will also be considered, for instance in science and technology studies, engineering, or computer science, if you have demonstrable expertise in conceptual and philosophical problems and approaches to embed values in technological design.
  • Strong conceptual and analytic skills
  • You have proven capacity to work across disciplinary boundaries.
  • Relative to experience, you have excellent research skills and excellent academic writing and presentation skills.
  • You can work both independently and as part of a team.
  • You have a high level of proficiency in English.
Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2443 per month in the first year to € 3122 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 

Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

With its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy, the Faculty of TPM makes an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security. We combine insights from the engineering sciences, the social and the humanities. We develop robust models and designs, are internationally oriented and have an extensive network with knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Stefan Buijsman, S.N.R.Buijsman@tudelft.nl
For more information about the procedure, please contact the HR advisor, hr-tbm@tudelft.nl

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