PhD candidate in Responsible democratization of AI (0,8 - 1,0 fte)

PhD candidate in Responsible democratization of AI (0,8 - 1,0 fte)

Published Deadline Location
14 Nov 9 Dec Tilburg

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The Department of Communication and Cognition at Tilburg University is looking for an enthusiastic new colleague. This PhD researcher will work on a project focused on “Responsible democratization of AI using Research through Design”.

Job description

Who we are

The successful candidate will be part of the Department of Communication and Cognition (DCC), within the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD). 
The Department of Communication and Cognition (DCC) is responsible for the Tilburg center for Cognition and Communication (TiCC), where research is conducted into cognitive and social aspects of human communication through a multidisciplinary approach combining careful experimentation with survey methods, corpus analyses and computational modeling. The research group consists of about 80 researchers covering a broad range of topics relevant for cognition and communication, and this includes approximately 20 PhD students. Core research domains include communication and technology, cross-cultural communication, computational linguistics, information visualisation, marketing and business communication, language production, and non-verbal communication, with a strong emphasis on digital methods.


Over the past decade, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)-based systems and applications have been creating ripples in people’s everyday lives and the society at large. More recent developments with generative AI tools such as ChatGPT over the past years have created a tectonic shift in the kind of impact such technologies can have now and in the near future. As AI is evolving at such a fast rate and getting increasingly powerful, it is important to look into how its benefits can be shared more widely and its potential threats managed and mitigated. These discussions have led researchers in both academia and industry to look towards ‘Democratizing AI’. AI democratization is generally defined as the spread of artificial intelligence development to a wider user base that includes those without specialized knowledge of AI in the interests of furthering its development and adoption. This fully funded, 4-year project aims to contribute to the larger discourses around (a) should we democratize AI?’; (b) how can it be democratized in an ethical, value-sensitive and inclusive manner?; and (c) uncovering potential intended and unintended consequences of democratizing AI.


The current vacancy is focused on identifying methodological and design guidelines to steer ethical future implementations of AI technologies. To do so, the PhD researcher will first investigate current perspectives around risks, benefits and challenges of end users, experts and different stakeholders when interacting with openly available AI technologies, specifically in such application domains as health and well-being, sustainability and education. Next, the PhD will iteratively carry out a number of activities using Research through Design and Design thinking approaches to explore the theme in more depth. Finally, the researcher is expected to carry out mixed-method experiments to come up with methodological and design recommendations on how to design future AI systems in an ethical and democratic manner for a specified application domain.


Tilburg University


Candidates for this position should have a (research) master’s degree in human-computer interaction, design, communication science, or comparable. In addition, they have:

  • experience with both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies;
  • demonstrable experience in design and prototyping; 
  • prior experience of working in an interdisciplinary team or collaboration;
  • excellent English written and oral communication skills;
  • interests that align with the project and particularly with application domains such as health and well-being, sustainability or education;
  • basic programming skills and knowledge in AI and ML could be beneficial; 
  • interest in supporting educational and teaching activities is also a plus.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

This is a position for 0,8 – 1,0 fte (32 - 40 hours per week) of full working hours. Working hours can be flexible for caring responsibilities. This is a vacancy for a temporary position in accordance with Article 2.3, paragraph 5 of the CLA for Dutch Universities. You will be given a temporary employment contract for the duration of 1 year. Upon positive outcome of the first-year evaluation, you will receive a subsequent employment contract that will be extended for an additional 3 years.
Tilburg University offers excellent employment conditions with attention to flexibility and (personal) development and attractive fringe benefits. The salary amounts to € 2.770 gross per month for full-time employment, increasing up to € 3.539 in the fourth year. The salary is based on UFO Promovendus of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Tilburg University uses a neutral remuneration system for salary scaling that is based on work experience.  
You are entitled to a vacation allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% of your gross annual income. If you work 40 hours per week, you will receive 41 paid days of leave per year.  
Researchers from outside the Netherlands may qualify for a tax-free allowance of 30% of their taxable salary if they meet the relevant conditions. The university applies for this allowance on their behalf. The University will provide assistance in finding suitable accommodation (for foreign employees). All employees of the university are covered by the so-called General Pension Fund for Public Employers (Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP).   
We make clear agreements about career paths and offer all kinds of facilities and arrangement to maintain an optimal balance between work and private life. You can also follow numerous training courses, for example, in the areas of leadership skills, personal effectiveness, and career development.  
Tilburg University values an open and inclusive culture. We embrace diversity and encourage the mutual integration of groups of employees and students. We focus on creating equal opportunities for all our employees and students so that everyone feels at home in our university community.  
Tilburg University has a lively campus in beautiful green surroundings that is easily accessible by public transport. We are committed to a sustainable society and challenge you to make an active contribution. 
Please visit working at Tilburg University for more information on our terms of employment.  


Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences

Research and education at the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD) has a unique focus on humans in the context of the globalizing digital society, on the development of artificial intelligence and interactive technologies, on their impact on communication, culture and society, and on moral and existential challenges that arise. The School of Humanities and Digital Sciences consists of four departments: Communication and Cognition, Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, Culture Studies and Philosophy; several research institutes and a faculty office. Also the University College Tilburg is part of the School. Each year around 275 students commence a Bachelor or (Pre) Master Program. The School has approximately 2000 students and 250 employees.

Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences


  • PhD
  • Language and culture
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 21982



Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB, Tilburg

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