Research Fellow/Fellow - College of Engineering and Computer Science Australian National University - College of Engineering and Computer Science Australia

Research Fellow/Fellow


Job no: 527904

Work type: Fixed Term

Location: Canberra / ACT

Categories: Professional


Classification: Level B/C

Salary package: Level B: $98,009-$111,365 plus 17% superannuation Level C: $118,044-$131,402 plus 17% superannuation

Term: Full time, Fixed Term 3 years, with a possibility of extension to 5 years and consideration for a tenure-track or continuing position in exceptional circumstances.

  • Be part of a high-performing project team of 20 academics attacking the challenge of Moral AI
  • ANU, the place to be: #1 in Australia and in the World's Top 25
  • Live in one of the cities with the highest quality of life and one of the most enjoyable to visit


Position overview

The ANU is launching a major new project on Humanising Machine Intelligence, uniting computer scientists, philosophers, and social scientists in the pursuit of a more ethical future for AI and Machine Learning.


Machine intelligence is already used in innumerable applications that, while not explicitly morally-loaded, have clear and profound social implications, from facial recognition, to the distribution of online attention. It is also used to support decisions that have explicit moral dimensions, for example about how to allocate welfare resources, and whom to grant bail or parole. And the application of MI in fully autonomous decision-making systems (robotic and otherwise) is picking up pace. Self-driving vehicles, autonomous weapons systems, and companion robots are the first wave of such systems; many more are on the way. Many companies and governments are also heavily invested in developing more general, multipurpose forms of AI. All of these autonomous systems must be able to make morally-loaded decisions by themselves.


In each of these fields inadequate attention to ethics in the design of MI systems will predictably have negative social consequences, some of which could be catastrophic. The goal of the HMI project is to forestall those risks, and help to realise the tremendous social benefits promised by MI. The project has three components: (1) Discovery: formulate the design problem by identifying the social risks and opportunities of widespread reliance on MI. (2) Foundations: identify and answer the fundamental theoretical questions on which progress towards ethical MI depends. (3) Design: develop ethical algorithms and broader MI systems in partnership with industry and government.


The HMI project chief investigators are: Associate Professors Seth Lazar (Project Leader), Colin Klein and Katie Steele (Philosophy), Professors Marcus Hutter, Sylvie Thiébaux, Bob Williamson and Lexing Xie (Computer Science), Dr. Jenny Davis (Sociology), Associate Professor Idione Meneghel (Economics), and Professor Toni Erskine (Political Science).


We are looking for up to eight talented academics to help us humanise machine intelligence. Our primary criterion is demonstrated research excellence in a discipline area relevant to the project, and the clear potential to be research leaders in their disciplines and in the field of moral AI. An interdisciplinary background is not required, but successful applicants will be ready and equipped to engage with scholars from other disciplines and are expected to work actively with scholars from at least two of the project’s discipline areas.


Three of these new academics will be based in the Research School of Computer Science. Within this discipline, we strongly encourage researchers with a wide range of technical backgrounds, including but not limited to computational social choice and game theory, decision theory, information theory, logic and automated reasoning, general artificial intelligence, machine learning, optimisation, planning & scheduling, reasoning about constraints & preferences, and reinforcement learning. Though these positions will be housed in the Research School of Computer Science, we strongly encourage anyone who meets the selection criteria to apply, regardless of disciplinary background.


Successful applicants will help us design the next generation of more ethical MI systems, in part through publishing internationally influential research in the leading peer-reviewed venues (as suited to their discipline). We expect them to become leaders in academia, industry or government. As well as conducting research at the highest level, they will help build the HMI community at ANU and globally, through convening a regular seminar series and international workshops. They will also contribute, at a reduced intensity, to the education and outreach agendas of the School, in a manner appropriate to the level of appointment.


Positions are available at academic Level B (Research Fellow) and C (Senior Fellow) and are for an initial fixed-term duration of 3 years with the potential for extension to 5 years following a mid-term project review. For candidates who currently hold tenure-track or permanent appointments at universities, industry or government and in other exceptional circumstances, a tenure-track or continuing appointment may be considered.


Candidates who meet the selection criteria for this position may also submit applications to the other postdoctoral positions advertised here and here.


To enquire about these positions please contact Professors Sylvie Thiebaux ( or Lexing Xie (


ANU values diversity and inclusion and believes employment opportunities must not be limited by socio-economic background, race, religion or gender. The University actively encourages applications from women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and candidates from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Furthermore, it is policy in the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science to require selection panels to seek a gender balance when compiling shortlists of candidates for interview. For more information about staff equity at ANU, visit  


The ANU provides attractive benefits and excellent support to maintain a healthy work/life balance and offers generous remuneration benefits, including four weeks paid vacation per year, assistance with relocation expenses and 17% employer contribution to superannuation. This also includes generous parental leave, the possibility of flexible and part time working arrangements, a parental and aged care support program, dual career hire programs, ANU school holiday programs, and childcare facilities on campus. For more information, please visit


Application information

Applicants must apply online via the ANU recruitment portal and should upload the following separate documents:

  • A detailed curriculum vitae including a full publication list and the names and contact details of at least three referees (preferably including a current or previous supervisor). If your CV does not include referees you can complete these online when prompted in the application form.
  • A statement addressing the selection criteria.
  • A 1-2 page statement outlining your approach to coursework education and student project supervision.
  • A 1-2 page statement outlining your research objectives for the next 3 years if appointed.


Position Description & Selection Criteria

Advertised: 19 Dec 2018 09:00:00 AM AUS Eastern Daylight Time

Applications close: 15 Feb 2019 11:55:00 PM AUS Eastern Daylight Time

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Computeroxy


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