[robotics-worldwide] [jobs] Ph.D. Position in Ethics of Robotics (with a focus on Robot-Enhanced Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders)

Philip Jansen p.h.jansen at student.utwente.nl
Thu Sep 19 04:09:39 PDT 2013

The Department of Philosophy of the University of Twente in the Netherlands
is looking for a Ph.D. Student in Ethics of Robotics, with a focus on
Robot-Enhanced Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

The challenge

This PhD position is funded by the European FP7 project “Development of
Robot-Enhanced therapy for children with AutisM spectrum disorders”
(acronym: DREAM). This exciting interdisciplinary, large-scale project,
involving 7 European partners  from Sweden, Belgium, Romania, United
Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France, will develop next-generation robots
that mediate between therapists and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ASD) in autism therapy. In this Robot-Enhanced Therapy (RET), the robots
will be able to interact with the child autonomously for limited periods
under the supervision of a therapist (“supervised autonomy”).

The use of robots in therapeutic contexts raises several ethical issues,
such as the degree of autonomy to be given to the robot and the question if
parents are happy to leave their child ‘in the hands of the robot’. The
“Ethics” work package (WP) will address these ethical issues by making sure
that all relevant known ethical constraints and existing laws applicable
are implemented in the design process, by examining specific ethical
questions raised by the interaction between child and autonomous
therapeutic robots, and by investigating if and how we can build in ethical
constraints into the meta-cognition level of the robot. In addition,
through close collaboration between the technical and ethical researchers
and the ASD practitioners, the project will determine how to achieve the
maximum impact of RET through effective integration of technology with
clinical therapy practices in general.

Research leader of the “Ethics” work package is Dr. Mark Coeckelbergh, who
will act as the daily supervisor of the Ph.D. project. The research leader
and the Ph.D. candidate will collaborate very closely with partners from
all over Europe who have different backgrounds, such as engineering and

Your profile

A Master’s degree or equivalent degree in philosophy (preferably but not
exclusively in ethics) and the proven ability and willingness to engage in
interdisciplinary research. Consideration will also be given to outstanding
candidates with a social sciences or multidisciplinary Master’s degree on a
topic relevant to the project, provided the candidate has some background
and experience in ethics.  Demonstrable interest in philosophical issues
relating to  human-robot interaction.  Highly motivated to become part of
an international team of researchers and to contribute to the success of
the DREAM project. Good analytical skills. Good organizational skills. Good
communication skills in English, in writing as well as orally. Creativity,
open-mindedness and ability to develop new ideas.

Our offer

We offer you a four-year full-time Ph.D. position, starting in 2014 (the
exact starting date will be communicated during the interview) and at the
end you should have completed your PhD thesis The gross salary is € 2.083,-
per month in the first year going up to €2.664,- in the fourth year.
Additionally, the University of Twente provides excellent facilities for
professional and personal development, a holiday allowance (amounts to 8%),
an end-of-year bonus (amounts to 8,3%) an a number of additional benefits.
The position also comes with a travel budget.

Information and application

For information you can contact the research  leader of the “Ethics” work
package, dr. M.J.K Coeckelbergh (e-mail: m.j.k.coeckelbergh at utwente.nl)
Your application should contain the following documents: a letter of
application which explain your motivation and interest in the position at
some length and explains your qualifications (this letter should contain
some suggestions on how you would want to approach this Ph.D. project); a
Curriculum Vitae which includes the names and e-mail address/telephone
number of at least two academic references; a copy of your master’s thesis;
copies of publications, if any.

Your application should be uploaded no later than October 31, 2013 to
www.utwente.nl/vacatures/en. Since this website only accepts three
documents per application, please combine the last ones into one document.
Job interviews will be held in November.

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