PhD Position on Hybrid Content Generation for Personalized Child-Robot Interaction

PhD Position on Hybrid Content Generation for Personalized Child-Robot Interaction

Published Deadline Location
2 May 15 Jun Amsterdam

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Are you interested in social robots that interact with children? Do you want to apply various state-of-the-art AI techniques, like Large Language Models and Knowledge Graphs? Do you like to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of researchers, writ...

Job description

A key challenge in human-robot interaction is creating engaging and personalized content for sustained interactions over time. Content includes the dialogs for multi-session conversations, the robot's character model, and the (educational) activities children can do with the robot. In past projects, this content was created in collaboration with writers. The latest advancements in generative AI also provide opportunities for creating this type of content.

In this project you will develop a hybrid content creation approach leveraging the creativity and management ability (to safeguard consistency, narrative development, and safety for children) of professional (human) content creators and the flexibility and scalability of generative AI technology. This approach aims to support writers in their creative process and scale up the content creation for child-robot interaction.

You will be part of the Social AI research group at the VU. The research project is part of the Hybrid Intelligence Centre which includes a close collaboration with the University of Twente (UT). You will be supervised by Dr. Mike Ligthart (VU), Dr. Shenghui Wang (UT), and Prof. Dr. Koen Hindriks (VU).

Your duties
  • Use natural language processing and knowledge graph techniques to extract, model, and suggest new dialog narratives, topics, and included entities and their relationships from existing dialogs.
  • Combine generative AI, like large language models, with knowledge graphs to scale up the content creation process while safeguarding the quality, consistency, and appropriateness of the content.
  • Develop a strategy to personalize the content to individual children while they interact with the robot.
  • Collaborate with writers to embed these new techniques into their creative process.
  • Design and run user studies with children at schools to evaluate the content and the content creation methods.
  • Analyze the quantitative and qualitative results with the appropriate (statistical) methods.
  • Write scientific publications and attend international conferences and workshops to present your work.
  • Support educational activities within the computer science department.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • You hold or will soon hold a Master's degree (or equivalent) in artificial intelligence, human-robot/computer interaction, computer science, computational linguistics, or a related field;
  • Your interest and experience in human-robot interaction, natural language processing, dialog systems, and user studies is desirable;
  • Your interest and experience in creative writing and working with children is also desirable;
  • You have excellent proficiency in English in speaking and writing. Proficiency in Dutch is desirable;
  • You have good communication skills, take initiative, and have a strong interest in working in a multidisciplinary team.

Conditions of employment

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1,5 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalised benefits package

For information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment see


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

About the department, institute, project
The VU Department of Computer Science has approximately 200 staff members, including approximately 110 PhD students. Lecturers form a critical and essential basis for the functioning of the department, providing foundational education that helps determine the future of our students.

Our research and our students are diverse, covering disciplines such as Social sciences, Humanities, Economics, and Bioinformatics. Currently, we offer programs in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Information Sciences (BSc and MSc), and Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (MSc), with a total of around 1000 new students each year.

Specifically you will be part of the Social AI research group. The vision of the Social AI group is to research and develop Smarter Digital Companions. Our mission is to advance AI to improve the way humans and machines understand and interact with each other. You will have access to the social AI lab, including its many social robots.
This PhD position is part of the Hybrid Intelligence (HI) Centre. It is a collaboration of top AI researchers from the VU Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, the TU Delft, the University of Twente (UT) and the Universities of Groningen, Leiden, and Utrecht. Hybrid Intelligence (HI) is the combination of human and machine intelligence, expanding human intellect instead of replacing it. HI takes human expertise and intentionality into account when making meaningful decisions and perform appropriate actions, together with ethical, legal and societal values. Our goal is to design Hybrid Intelligent systems, an approach to Artificial Intelligence that puts humans at the center, changing the course of the ongoing AI revolution.

Note that this job opening is one of several job openings on the HI page with job openings. You can apply to more than just this one. If you do so, please inform the Hybrid Intelligence Centre's Diversity Statement. To do this, we need an inclusive and diverse team of researchers. We especially encourage people from underrepresented groups to apply for this job.


  • PhD
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 15321


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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