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Justice vacancies

PhD Position: Explaining and Contesting Automated Legal Decisions

Utrecht University

As public bodies increasingly make use of automated decision-making systems (ADS), the question of how decisions can be contested becomes a pertinent one, especially considering the often ‘black box’ nature of ADS. While several legal requirements for transparency and contestability in the context of ADS have been developed, exactly how these requirements can be operationalized in practice remains to be seen. Similarly, while the field of explainable AI (xAI) has proposed many technical solutions to explain ADS, it remains unclear whether these solutions are sufficient to realize ‘contestable AI’ from a legal point of view. This PhD project therefore aims to answer the question how meaningful contestation can be operationalized with respect to the design and application of ADS in public decision making. The project will, in addition to traditional legal doctrinal research, also include a significant empirical component including interviews, focus groups and vignette studies with e.g. citizens, judges and civil servants.

Click here to read the full project description.

Profile of the candidate

The candidate for this position has a (research) master’s degree in sociology, political science, migration studies, public administration or a related field. The candidate has a strong affinity with the above topics and in working together with a team of people from different disciplines including an interest to learn and work with empirical and computational social science or digital methods. 

Furthermore you have:

If the vacancy appeals to you, but you are doubting whether you might be THE person we are looking for, please do apply. We encourage all qualified applicants, including minorities, women, people with disabilities, and members of other groups underrepresented in academia to apply. We wish to create a consortium that consists of persons who each contribute in their unique way to the team. Complementarity and not homogeneity is what we are looking for.  

Developing a societal vision on automated decision making concerns us all. We believe that a diversity of perspectives in our consortium will be important in developing an inclusive societal vision and strive therefore also in our hiring policy for encouraging applicants from diverse backgrounds. We are committed to creating an environment of mutual respect, inclusiveness, equal opportunities with room for situated experiences, diverse perspectives, and ideas to flourish. This commitment applies to our research, organisation, room for flexibility, training, and community activities as well as our hiring strategy.  

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