Governance of AI Fellowship
Note: The Governance of AI Fellowship will not open for applications in 2021. If you are interested in collaborating with the Centre for the Governance of AI, feel free to reach out to Anne who can put you in touch or direct you to similar opportunities.
The Centre for the Governance of AI, at the Future of Humanity Institute, the University of Oxford, is seeking exceptional researchers to carry out collaborative research with our interdisciplinary team for a limited period of three months. Participants in the Fellowship will have the opportunity to produce their own research in a fast-growing field, while gaining expertise in parts of our Research Agenda.
We are interested in candidates from a broad set of disciplines including International Relations, Public Policy, Political Science, History, Economics, Sociology, Law, Philosophy, Mathematics, and Computer Science. Technical expertise in or familiarity with machine learning is useful but not required. Previous successful applicants have been postdocs, PhD students, and particularly promising Master’s students.
More senior researchers interested in collaborating can express their interest via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artificial intelligence is poised to be a radically transformative technology. As such, it is likely to bring wide-ranging challenges to tackle and opportunities to seize. The field of AI Governance investigates how we can shape the development and deployment of artificial intelligence to serve the common good.
There is a great need for research in this space. Governments are devising national AI strategies, leading AI labs are publishing white papers and agreeing on AI governance principles, while the AI industry as a whole is growing rapidly. Meanwhile, given the nascency of the field, there is a dearth of expertise. The Governance of AI Fellowship provides aspiring researchers with the opportunity to meet that need.
The Centre for the Governance of AI (GovAI), housed in the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, is a leading hub for AI governance research, with particular strengths analyzing the geostrategic and long term transformative impacts of AI. With this aim, we have published research on e.g. expert and public views on the development of artificial intelligence, the potential malicious uses of artificial intelligence and China’s AI development, as well as a field-setting AI Governance Research Agenda. For more introductory content, you can listen to GovAI’s Director Allan Dafoe on the 80,000Hours podcast.
The Fellowship is designed to give you an opportunity to:
- Gain an understanding of the state-of-the-art research in AI governance
- Engage with GovAI’s research programme and ongoing research, through discussions and collaboration with our researchers
- Produce independent (supernumerary) research under the supervision of leading experts in the field
Who should apply?
You should apply if you have an interest in our research and are committed to working to shape transformative AI in a positive direction.
Given the multidisciplinarity of our work, we are interested in candidates from a broad set of disciplines including International Relations, Public Policy, Political Science, History, Economics, Sociology, Law, Philosophy, Mathematics, and Computer Science. Technical expertise in or familiarity with machine learning is useful but not required. We are also interested in candidates with policy-making experience.
Previous successful applicants have been postdocs, PhD students, and particularly promising Master’s students. Senior researchers interested in collaborating – for whom the Fellowship is not a good option – can express their interest via email@example.com.
Exemplifying the broad set of topics we cover, current researchers at the Centre for the Governance of AI address for example:
- Long-run possibilities for beneficial global governance of advanced AI
- Institutions and possibilities for global cooperation
- Risks and dynamics of international AI races
- Trends, causes, and forecasts of AI progress
- Transformations of the sources of wealth and power
- Associated technologies like crypto-economic systems, nanotechnology, biotechnology, lie detection, and surveillance
- Global public opinion, values, ethics, and positive visions of transformative artificial intelligence
- Global political dimensions of AI-induced unemployment and inequality
What we’re looking for
In all candidates, we seek high general aptitude, self-direction, openness to feedback, and a firm belief in our mission. As we work closely with leading AI labs and the effective altruism community, familiarity and involvement with these communities is desirable but not required. We are also interested in candidates with policy-making experience.
When assessing candidates we will primarily consider the following criteria:
- Relevant expertise: Expertise, be it skills or knowledge, that is likely to be useful to GovAI. We also consider the extent to which we think candidates will be able to develop relevant expertise.
- Quality of work: The ability to produce high-calibre work.
- Judgement: Good intuitions regarding what is important and tractable research.
- Team Fit: Fitting into the GovAI team culture, including openness to feedback, transparency, drive, and a collaborative spirit.
- Career Fit: Commitment to using their career to contribute to the AI governance field.
About the opportunity (likely to be amended when applications re-open)
Period: Spring (January start) or Summer (July start)
Length: 3 months preferred
Location: Oxford, UK, preferred
Preferably, you will be working collaboratively with us on a full-time basis. Though candidates will not be employed, they will be compensated via a generous stipend.
If you need a visa to work in the UK, please let us know in your application.
GovAI is ambitious to grow in the coming months and years. We have millions of pounds in secured funding, and an expansive research and policy agenda. As such, one important feature of the Fellowship program is to identify opportunities for continued work or collaboration with GovAI, as a Research Affiliate or full-time Researcher.
How to apply
In previous rounds we asked for the following materials, although this may be updated when applications re-open:
- Resume or CV
- Statement of interest, answering the questions:
- Why do you want to research with us?
- What can you contribute to the AI governance field?
- How does this opportunity fit into your overall career plans?
- Two references
- Names and email addresses; no letters required
- A work sample
- It could be a paper, dissertation, essay, blog post, article or the like
- Samples on topics related to our work are preferred, but not required
- Max word count: 5,000. Excerpts allowed.
- With your work sample, include 1-sentence answers to the following questions:
- What was the context in which the work was written (e.g. involvement of others, if it was a dissertation)?
- Roughly how much time did you spend on the piece?
- What was your goal in writing the piece?
- What do you think of the results?
- A research proposal (no more than one page) describing a research project that you would like to work with us on (based on the Research Agenda)
- This is not necessarily the project you will research with us
- Please use the following structure:
- Question: What is the question you’d like to answer?
- Motivation: Why is the question important? In particular, why is it of relevance to the GovAI research agenda
- Description: If you were to write the piece now, what would you say? How would you go about answering the question?
In previous rounds, after an initial round of screening applications, we invited applicants to conduct a 2-hour trial task where participants work on research questions related to our work. After the trial task, candidates were invited for interviews. The whole selection process was conducted remotely. Due to a high number of applications, we are generally not able to provide feedback to candidates who do not make it through the first stages of applications.
The Centre for the Governance of AI (GovAI), housed at the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, strives to help humanity capture the benefits and mitigate the risks of artificial intelligence. Our focus is on the political challenges arising from transformative AI: advanced AI systems whose long-term impacts may be as profound as the industrial revolution. GovAI seeks to guide the development of AI for the common good by conducting research on important and neglected issues of AI governance, and advising decision makers on this research through policy engagement.
GovAI produces research which is foundational to the field of AI governance, for example mapping crucial considerations to direct the research agenda, or identifying distinctive features of the transition to transformative AI and corresponding policy considerations. Our research also addresses more immediate policy issues, such as malicious use and China’s AI strategy. Current focuses include international security, the history of technology development, and public opinion.
In addition to research, GovAI is active in international policy circles, and actively advises governments and industry leaders on AI strategy. Our researchers have spoken at the NIPS (now NeurIPS) and AAAI/ACM conferences, and at events involving the German Federal Foreign Office, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the UK House of Lords, US Congress, and others.
GovAI’s papers and reports are available at https://www.governance.ai.