Two PhD Positions on Human-aligned Video-AI

Two PhD Positions on Human-aligned Video-AI

Published Deadline Location
14 May 15 Jun Amsterdam

Job description

Are you interested in performing high-impact interdisciplinary research in Artificial Intelligence and its alignment with humans and society? The University of Amsterdam has recently started a flagship project on Human-Aligned Video AI (HAVA). The HAVA Lab will address fundamental questions about what defines human alignment with video AI, how to make this computable, and what determines its societal acceptance.
Video AI holds the promise to explore what is unreachable, monitor what is imperceivable and to protect what is most valuable. New species have become identifiable in our deep oceans, the visually impaired profit from automated speech transcriptions of visual scenery, and elderly caregivers may be supported with an extra pair of eyes, to name just three of the many, many application examples. This is no longer wishful thinking. Broad uptake of video-AI for science, for business, and for wellbeing awaits at the horizon, thanks to a decade of phenomenal progress in machine deep learning.

However, the same video-AI is also accountable for self-driving cars crashing into pedestrians, deep fakes that make us believe misinformation, and mass-surveillance systems that monitor our behaviour. The research community’s over-concentration on recognition accuracy has neglected human-alignment for societal acceptance. The HAVA Lab is an intern-disciplinary lab that will study how to make the much-needed digital transformation towards human-aligned video AI.

The HAVA Lab will host 7 PhD positions working together with researchers from all 7 faculties of the university, from video AI and its alignment with human cognition, ethics, and law, to its embedding in medical domains, public safety, and business. The lab has 9 supervisors in total spanning all 7 faculties of the university for maximum interdisciplinarity. Depending on the specific topic, the PhD students also have a strong link to the working environment and faculty of their respective supervisors. The HAVA Lab has been given a unique central location at the library, an ideal hub for interdisciplinary collaborations. The PI of the lab is prof. dr. Cees Snoek.

Five of the seven PhD positions have been filled, we are looking to fill two more PhD positions, with the following interdisciplinary focus:
  • One PhD Position on human-aligned video-AI for public safety, which will be supervised by prof. dr. Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard and prof. dr. Cees Snoek.
  • One PhD Position on human-aligned video-AI for surgical skills, which will be supervised by prof. dr. Marlies Schijven and prof. dr. Cees Snoek.

What are you going to do?
Foundational video AI requires self-supervised multimodal learning that models motion dynamics, audio perception and contextual semantics, while reducing the associated computational costs. Furthermore, a good video AI model requires having enhanced generalization capability such that it can be adapted via prompt learning or instruction tuning to various downstream application domains in a parameter-efficient fashion.

This is especially important for video understanding applications, where annotating large amounts of data is extremely expensive, error-prone and sensitive to annotator bias, or simply only available in limited amounts due to privacy or societal concerns. However, most current works in video self-supervised learning do not consider these more human-aligned conditions. For both PhD positions, you will research video AI in a human-aligned manner, with one position focusing on public safety and the other one on surgical skills.

Public safety. Video AI has the potential to detect unsafe behavior and situations from camera recordings and provide unique insights, for example statistics on crimes that are currently undetected, unregistered and unreported, or on incidences of self-policing and helping. However, specialist knowledge about behavior during subtle incidences of such interactions is needed to deal with human biases present in existing data. This requires new video-AI algorithms recognizing subtle and fine-grained behavior without perpetuating unwanted biases, as well as research into the societal integration of such algorithms.

Surgical skills. For this position, you will research how video AI can be developed and safeguarded against annotation biases; and how to align complex annotations with video data when it comes to deployment in settings developed for assessing surgical skills. Moreover, you will investigate how multimodal video-AI algorithms can be developed in an ethically sound manner, and further trained to reliably assess surgical trainees in skills settings.

Your tasks will be to:
  • Perform novel research towards video AI and its human-alignment in society.
  • Actively collaborate within the interdisciplinary HAVA Lab.
  • Present research results at international conferences and journals.
  • Be active in sharing your research in the public as well as in the social domain, according to UvA Guidelines.
  • Assist in teaching activities such as lab assistance and student supervision.
  • Pursue and complete a PhD thesis within the appointed duration of four years.

What do you have to offer?
  • A relevant Masters degree to the PhD topic of interest. Our ideal PhD candidate has a background in artificial intelligence and affinity with either the social and behavioural sciences or medical sciences.
  • Affinity with interdisciplinary research in Artificial Intelligence.
  • Interest in developing skills required in complementary disciplines.
  • Experience with programming in Python, computer vision and machine learning.
  • You are highly motivated, independent, and creative.
  • Strong communication, presentation and writing skills and excellent command of English.

Our offer
A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is as soon as possible. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,770 in the first year to € 3,539 in the last year (scale P). UvA additionally offers an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. The UFO profile PhD Candidate is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment we offer you multiple fringe benefits:
  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • Multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • A complete educational program for PhD students;
  • Multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • Partly paid parental leave;
  • The possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • A pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • The possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • Help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad

Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.

About us
The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science (FNWI) has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The mission of the Informatics Institute (IvI) is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

The HAVA Lab is part of the Data Science Centre, the coordinating hub and facilitator for data-driven research within the University of Amsterdam. The supervisors span all 7 faculties of the university.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Any questions?
Do you have any questions or do you require additional information about the position or your future duties? Please contact:

Job application
If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including 15 June 2024. Applications should include the following information (all files besides your CV should be submitted in one single pdf file):
  • A letter that motivates your choice for this position;
  • Curriculum vitae, including your list of publications if applicable (max 2 pages);
  • A research statement on how to approach the PhD project. Solid and creative ideas will be greatly appreciated. (max 2 pages).
  • A link to your Master thesis – if online available, else include an abstract.
  • A complete record of Bachelor and Master courses (including grades and explanation of grading system);
  • A list of projects or publications you have worked on, with brief descriptions of your contributions, max 1 page;
  • The names and contact addresses of at least two academic references (please do not include any recommendation letters).

Please make sure to provide ALL requested documents mentioned above.
You can use the CV field to upload your resume as a separate pdf document. Use the Cover Letter field to upload the other requested documents, including the motivation letter, as one single pdf file.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered. The first round of job interviews will take place in the end of June/early July.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

If you encounter Error GBB451/ GBC451, please try using a VPN connection when outside of the European Union. Please reach out directly to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.

No agencies please.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences; Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 12979


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 15 Jun 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).