PhD Investigating AI systems on the fit of human expectations to AI capabilities

PhD Investigating AI systems on the fit of human expectations to AI capabilities

Published Deadline Location
22 Dec 31 Jan Eindhoven

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Job description

Are you interested in researching artificial intelligence and it's capabilities? Would you like to create a theoretical framework on AI errors and human expectancies that are present in our society? Is understanding cognition and intelligence in humans and computers your holy grail? If so, then apply for this PhD position at Eindhoven University of Technology and join the Human Technology Interaction (HTI) group.

A very prominent problem in technology in the fields of health and mobility is losing trust. Especially when human lives are at stake, accepting new technology does not always proceed as fast as one would expect based on the superiority of a system over human actors. In this project, we will focus on investigating what level of intelligence is expected of AI, what errors are portrayed by AI, and how to recover after a breakdown of trust between man and machine.

The first goal is to formulate an overarching theory about intelligence in AI that can serve as a fundamental framework for design processes of technology. Furthermore, a study into errors and expectancies of AI's and humans will be executed. And an analysis of how to gracefully recover from a breakdown of trust after minor or mayor issues between human and AI.

In the second phase of the project, the knowledge will be applied to working (prototypes of) AI systems, developed at our university or at external parties, to test if the theory holds in practice, and to improve technology to fit closer to the expectancies of the involved users and to reach graceful degradation in case of failures by AI-systems.

Your duties
As a PhD researcher from the human technology Interaction group and the EAISI institute, you will first focus on defining intelligence, expectancies and errors for AI-systems. For humans we have defined intelligence, but it contains components that do not translate to other entities like animals or AI. AI errors can be wildly different for human errors and therefore expectancies might not always be logical or predictable. Therefore, a new definition of intelligence, expectancies and errors will have to be synthesized from current literature, existing AI models, as well as experts in the field, and end-users od AI-systems, on what they perceive as intelligent or unintelligent behavior. So this first phase will entail both synthesizing knowledge from the literature and qualitative studies like semi-structured interviews with experts in the field where AI systems are being used in practice.

Based on this fundamental knowledge and formation of theory, we want to empirically evaluate the variables that contribute to an accurate and justified mental model of the AI's intelligence level and intelligence breakdown (i.e., intelligence calibration). Therefore, in this second phase of the project you will conduct experiments in our labs and at companies where AI systems are being used in practice to test the theory in practice.

Furthermore, your job will be to reflect and capitalize on findings from ongoing studies at the TU/e and HTI on the application of Intelligence calibration and trust in AI-systems. As a result you will contribute to innovative human-technology interaction in our society. You will publish your findings in top-tier academic journals preferably with a multi-disciplinary audience and proactively disseminate the methodology that you will develop through education, conferences, and workshops.

The research will have a multi-disciplinary angle since you will interview people across the departments of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences (IE&IS), Mathematics and Computer Science (M&CS), Mechanical Engineering (ME), and Electrical Engineering (EE). Furthermore, you will become part of the EAISI institute (Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Institute) to join forces in creating AI for the real world. You will receive day-to-day supervision from Sanne Schoenmakers (IE&IS) and Wijnand IJsselsteijn (IE&IS).


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


We are looking for a candidate who meets several of the following requirements:
  • You are enthusiastic about research in Artificial Intelligence and human cognition
  • You hold a MSc degree in one of the following fields: cognitive science, artificial intelligence, human technology interaction, cognitive psychology, computer science, biomedical Engineering, cognitive neuroscience. Or a related field.
  • You have affinity with psychology, cognitive neuroscience or social sciences.
  • You have a fascination with technical systems. You already know or want to learn about existing artificial intelligence, robotics and computer systems.
  • You show openness, interest and have good soft skills to work closely with people from other disciplines and across organizations.
  • You will need to have a good proficiency in spoken and written English. (knowledge of Dutch is not required
  • You should have an interest in teaching and supervision of students
  • You don't have to fit the requirements exactly, most important is your interest in this research topic and your approach to science. Do you enjoy reading literature and integrating knowledge to a theory? Do you like interviewing people and trying to understand their point of view? Do you enjoy setting up an experiment and seeing humans and technology interact? If so, then this project might be great for you.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:
  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • The start date would ideally be 1 February 2023, but is somewhat flexible.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale 27.
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V39.6203


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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