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  3. Postdoc (18-month position) in Ethics of Big Data as part of a large European project on ethical and human rights aspects of smart big data systems

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Postdoc (18-month position) in Ethics of Big Data as part of a large European project on ethical and human rights aspects of smart big data systems

The aim of this postdoc project is to do an ethical study of big data systems and their implications for society, and to contribute to answers to the question as to how these systems should ...

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Drienerlolaan, Enschede, Overijssel
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 3111 - € 4453 per maand


The aim of this postdoc project is to do an ethical study of big data systems and their implications for society, and to contribute to answers to the question as to how these systems should be regulated, what ethical codes and protocols there should be in place, and what the responsibility of various actors is with respect to them. This study will be performed in the context of a large European project, SHERPA, on ethical and human rights dimensions of big data.

In the postdoc project, about half your time will be devoted to ethical case studies and scenario studies of various types of big data systems and their use in various types of settings (including big data systems that process information about citizens, consumers, and employees). Some possible topics for case studies are: Google’s search engine, AI algorithms used in Facebook and other social media, Amazon’s Alexa home assistant, Apple’s iPhone with GPS tracking, predictive policing, block chain technologies, automated share-dealing, personal fitness applications. The remainder of your time will be devoted to developing ethical guidelines and regulatory options for the responsible development and use of big data systems. You will be writing reports for the project (often together with others), and you will also have some time to work on academic publications.


You have a PhD in ethics, applied ethics, or a related field. In addition, you:

  • are familiar with the computer and information sciences (the ideal candidate would have done some studies in this area);
  • are interested in multidisciplinary collaboration;
  • have good analytical skills;
  • have good English language skills, both written and spoken;
  • have good social and communication skills in academic as well as non-academic contexts;
  • have an interest in policy and the practical applications of ethics;
  • ideally have some experience with interview methods and qualitative methods in social science
  • are able to work independently, but also motivated to collaborate with others, including project participants and stakeholders from different countries and with different backgrounds.

Job application
Your application should include the following documents:

  • a cover letter which explains your interest in the position and your qualifications for it;
  • a curriculum vitae which includes the name and e-mail address/telephone number for at least two references.
  • a writing sample (preferably a published article related to the position);
  • either a summary and table of contents of your dissertation or the entire dissertation. Applications should be uploaded via application link below. The application deadline is February 28th, 2018. Interviews will be held about one week after this date. Since only three documents can be uploaded per application, please combine documents if needed. A copy of the project proposal is available upon request.
Your collaborators at the University of Twente in this project will be Prof. Philip Brey and dr. Kevin Macnish. Prof. Brey is full professor in philosophy of technology, with a focus on ethics, and has published a lot on ethics of information technology. Dr. Kevin Macnish is assistant professor in ethics of technology, and has published extensively in the ethics of privacy, surveillance and security. For further information you can contact dr. Kevin Macnish phone number +31 53 489 7620 (k.macnish@utwente.nl).


An 18-month full-time postdoc position, starting May 1st (preferred). The gross salary is € 3.111,- to € 4.453,- per month, depending on experience. On top of this, you receive a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus. You will have a budget for traveling to SHERPA workshops and to international conferences. We offer excellent auxiliary terms of employment, such as professional and personal development programs; a secondary remuneration package; a dynamic environment with enthusiastic colleagues; and an organization focusing on internationalization and a high degree of responsibility and independence.


The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through 'social engineering' these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behaviour, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this the faculty of BMS upholds high quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our Institutes on Governance (IGS), ICT (CTIT), Health (MIRA) and Nanotechnology (MESA+).