Scotiabank Research Fellow, AI and Inclusion

Posted on Monday, November 14, 2022

Type: Postdoctoral, Doctoral or Research Fellowship
Start date: January 2023
Duration: One-year fellowship
Salary range: $45,000 (full time annual base salary); or $20,000 and travel allowance (PhD candidate)
Reports to: Prof. Jane Bailey, Dr. Valerie Steeves, and/or Dr. Jason Millar

 

Fellowship Description

The AI + Society Initiative is seeking an enthusiastic Scotiabank Research Fellow to pursue an innovative research program focused on reimagining how to design ethical and inclusive artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

The successful candidate will work throughout the fellowship with leading technology law, ethics and policy scholars at the University of Ottawa AI + Society Initiative, notably from The eQuality Project and the Canadian Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Ethical Design Lab (CRAiEDL).

AI promises important benefits, but unchecked AI development surfaces significant challenges, such as creating uncertainty surrounding the future of work, redistributing various risks and benefits in society in discriminatory ways, or shifting power to new structures that lie outside of the control of existing and understood governance and accountability frameworks.

Applicants are encouraged to propose creative ideas for a research fellowship, emphasizing how they plan to contribute to new knowledge in developing effective inclusive and participatory ethical design/engineering frameworks for AI systems that avoid the disturbing risk of amplifying global digital injustices through AI for marginalized populations (women, youth, seniors, Indigenous People, LGBTQIA2S+, racialized people, people with disabilities, and linguistic minorities—and those marginalized by intersecting oppressions such as racism, sexism, and homophobia).

We are particularly, but by no means exclusively, interested in proposals aligning with the following topics:

  • Developing Ethical AI Engineering Design Practices: This research will develop and validate effective methodologies, frameworks and tools for ethical AI engineering design practices. It will fill the critical gap between identifying broad ethical principles, including those focused on inclusion and diversity in design, and effectively translating those principles into concrete system elements (e.g. engineering and design requirements for AI, or system features), implementing those elements into actual AI systems, and validating their implementation. (No technical skills are required to be considered for this topic, though such skills could be an asset.)
  • Youth and AI: The research would look at young people’s AI literacy, how digital communications and associated corporate structures are exposing them to discriminatory impacts from AI and algorithmic sorting, and develop resources and policy frameworks to help youth and their supporting adults to better navigate a digital environment increasingly dominated by AI.
  • AI and Justice: The research would undertake to develop a robust framework for assessing whether and, if so, how AI can be appropriately used to automate parts of bail, sentencing and parole decisions in the criminal justice system, notably looking at how human rights codes and other legal tools can be used to leverage more diversity and inclusion in AI systems and to remedy discriminatory practices and outcomes.

The fellowship will result in a better understanding of the current AI context and challenges. Research outputs (e.g. policy recommendations and framework proposals) will be disseminated through a series of publications, white papers and other knowledge mobilization activities. The fellowship will focus on research dissemination and knowledge translation both within and outside the academy, and with public and private sector actors.

This successful candidate will have experience conducting interdisciplinary research and a strong background in Human Rights, AI Ethics, or AI Policy or Governance (or a closely related field). In addition, training in a related technology field, such as computer science or engineering may be beneficial (though not necessary).

 

About the Project

The Research Fellow will join the dynamic research community of the AI + Society Initiative at the University of Ottawa, and notably its “AI + Inclusion” research stream, which focuses on reimagining how to design ethical and inclusive AI systems.

The University of Ottawa has positioned itself as a leader in transdisciplinary research and training for responsible AI for the benefit of Canada and the world. The AI + Society Initiative leads a research agenda for a better understanding and framing of the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI research and its uses, as well as leveraging a transdisciplinary approach to advancing AI methods and tools, with a focus on responsible deployment and application.

The Initiative promotes an inclusive research agenda with a specific focus on amplifying voices and research that does not perpetuate systems of injustice and oppression for affected communities. The research and conversations we aim to highlight focus on the inclusion of voices and perspectives of women, youth, seniors, Indigenous People, LGBTQIA2S+, racialized communities, people with disabilities, and linguistic minorities–and those at the intersection of these identities.

While being grounded in rigorous evidence-based academic research, most outreach (public lectures, training, tools, white papers, reports, etc.) will be developed with the general public in mind, and communicated in plain language for them to be able to take ownership of the tools and implement them to have a transformative impact within their communities, including in relation to policy reform.

 

Position Requirements

  • Doctoral or graduate degree in a relevant field (e.g. law, policy, ethics, social sciences, sociology). PhD candidates will be considered.
  • Interdisciplinary research experience focused on the ethical, social and/or human rights implications of AI.
  • English or French proficiency.

 

Additionally, the following skills will be considered as assets:

  • Bilingualism (English and French).
  • Scholarship on the relevant topics.
  • Experience with knowledge mobilization.

 

Place of work and COVID-19: We are currently working in a hybrid model, but are resuming in person activities. We understand each person’s circumstances are unique and will work with the selected candidate to explore the best working conditions for them.

 

How to apply

Apply on our Application Portal

 

The application package should include:

  • a cover letter,
  • a complete curriculum vitae,
  • a one-page (max.) description of research interests relevant for this position,
  • a recent writing sample, preferably a publication in an academic journal.

 

Please direct your questions to aisociety@uottawa.ca.

The selection committee will start to review applications on December 1, 2022. Applications will be considered until a successful candidate is found.

Applications should indicate a proposed start date. We hope the selected candidate will be able to join the project in January 2023.

We thank all applicants for their interest, however only those under consideration for the role will be contacted. While we are committed to ensuring the best possible experience for all applicants, only those under consideration for the role will be contacted. Please be advised that, due to changes in our funding, management, or organizational needs, we reserve the right to pause or stop a job competition at any stage in the process. Applicants will be notified in a timely manner.

The University of Ottawa is an equal opportunity employer. The University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society is strongly committed to fostering diversity within our community. We strongly encourage applications from women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities, as well as members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

The cover letter should confirm the immigration status of the candidate. Please note that hired candidate that is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada will need to be able to travel to Canada to obtain their work permit, and social insurance number.

In keeping with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the University of Ottawa will provide accommodations upon request during the recruitment, selection and assessment process for candidates with a disability.

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