PhD on Explaining and Contesting Automated Legal Decisions (1.0 FTE)

PhD on Explaining and Contesting Automated Legal Decisions (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
22 Nov 16 Jan Utrecht
Utrecht University is looking for a PhD candidate for a project within the Gravitation programme Public Values in the Algorithmic Society (ALGOSOC).

Job description

As public bodies increasingly make use of automated decision-making systems (ADS), the question of how decisions can be contested becomes a pertinent one, especially considering the often ‘black box’ nature of ADS. While several legal requirements for transparency and contestability in the context of ADS have been developed, exactly how these requirements can be operationalized in practice remains to be seen. Similarly, while the field of explainable AI (xAI) has proposed many technical solutions to explain ADS, it remains unclear whether these solutions are sufficient to realize ‘contestable AI’ from a legal point of view. This PhD project therefore aims to answer the question how meaningful contestation can be operationalized with respect to the design and application of ADS in public decision making. The project will, in addition to traditional legal doctrinal research, also include a significant empirical component including interviews, focus groups and vignette studies with e.g. citizens, judges and civil servants.

This project is part of the Gravitation programme Public Values in the Algorithmic Society (ALGOSOC). The Gravitation programme is an initiative by the Dutch government to support excellent research in the Netherlands. The funding is reserved for scientific consortia that have the potential to rank among the world's best in their field. ALGOSOC is a response to the urgent need for an informed societal perspective on automated decision-making. Funded by the ministry for Education, Culture and Science for a period for 10 years, research in the ALGOSOC programme will develop a deep understanding of the systemic changes that automated decision making entails for core public institutions, for society, and for how public values are realized. The research will focus on three sectors: justice, health and media. The programme brings together researchers in law, communication science, computer science, media studies, philosophy, public governance, STS, economy and social sciences from five Dutch universities (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Tilburg, Delft and Rotterdam). Together, the ALGOSOC community will develop solutions for the design of governance frameworks needed to complement technology-driven initiatives in the algorithmic society.

The tasks include:
  • developing, conducting, and publishing research on a legal and governance framework for transparency and contestability of automated decisions in the public sector, including empirical research and engagement with public stakeholders;
  • contributing to the public debate and outreach activities of ALGOSOC;
  • contributing to the overall programme in terms of events, research meetings, activities;
  • collaboration with other researchers within the ALGOSOC consortium.
Developing a societal vision on ADS concerns us all. We believe that a diversity of perspectives in our consortium will be important in developing an inclusive societal vision, and strive therefore also in our hiring policy for encouraging applicants from diverse backgrounds. We are committed to creating an environment of mutual respect, inclusiveness, equal opportunities and providing room for situated experiences, diverse perspectives, and ideas to flourish. This commitment applies to our research, organisation, room for flexibility, training and community activities as well as our hiring strategy.

Specifications

Utrecht University

Requirements

The PhD candidate we are looking for:
  • holds a (Research) Master’s degree in law or a related discipline, with strong affinity for technology and public management;
  • has clear interest in reaching out to other academic disciplines, and in learning and working with empirical research methods;
  • has a clear research interest in the topic of the project;
  • has an excellent written and spoken command of English, as demonstrated by publications in English (written and spoken command of other EU languages is a plus);
  • is eager to engage with public stakeholders such as citizens and civil servants – for the latter, at least a passive command of Dutch is very much recommended;
  • the ability, willingness, and commitment to do autonomous work in a multidisciplinary team that includes legal scholars, ethicists and computer scientists;
  • has experience with organising workshops, lecture series, and similar events.

Are you interested in this project, but do you think you are not the person we are looking for? Please do apply, as we encourage all qualified applicants, including minorities, women, people with disabilities, and members of other groups underrepresented in academia. For more information, please read our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) programme.

We wish to create a consortium that consists of persons who each contribute in their unique way to the team. Complementarity, rather than homogeneity, is what we are looking for.

Conditions of employment

You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for 18 months with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

Employer

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance (LEG) is a faculty at the heart of society, with a strong focus on social issues. Our subjects of Law, Economics and Governance give us a strong mix of academic disciplines that complement and enhance each other. This is a unique combination and a mark of our faculty's strength.

The Utrecht University School of Law is part of the LEG faculty. 'Law in Utrecht' stands for multidimensional research in the main areas of law and for intensive and varied legal education in a small-scale academic community. Teaching and research focuses primarily on the core areas of law and the links between them: Private Law, Criminal Law, State and Administrative Law and Theory of Law as well as International and European Law. The department aims to play an active and distinctive role within innovative legal research, into scientifically and socially relevant themes and with challenging education that trains students who can lead societal change.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Prof Janneke Gerards (Dean/Programme Co-ordinator Legal Research Master) via j.h.gerards@uu.nl or +31 030 253 84 56.

Specifications

  • PhD
  • Law
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1200504

Employer

Location

Newtonlaan 201, 3584 BH, Utrecht

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Application procedure

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

To apply, please send your Curriculum Vitae, including a letter of motivation and a writing sample, via the ‘apply’ button. You can address your application to Utrecht University, School of Law, Prof Gerards. In your motivation letter, please refer to the specific code of this vacancy: Justice_006.

Please apply for one position within the ALGOSOC programme only. In case you are interested in multiple positions within the ALGOSOC programme, please indicate this in your motivation letter by referring to the specific codes of the vacancies. You can find an overview of all our vacancies within the ALGOSOC programme on algosocvacancies.org

Application procedure

Application procedure

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

To apply, please send your Curriculum Vitae, including a letter of motivation and a writing sample, via the ‘apply’ button. You can address your application to Utrecht University, School of Law, Prof Gerards. In your motivation letter, please refer to the specific code of this vacancy: Justice_006.

Please apply for one position within the ALGOSOC programme only. In case you are interested in multiple positions within the ALGOSOC programme, please indicate this in your motivation letter by referring to the specific codes of the vacancies. You can find an overview of all our vacancies within the ALGOSOC programme on algosocvacancies.org

Make sure to apply no later than 16 Jan 2023 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).