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Ph.D. positions on generative AI in a human-machine society

Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB)
Berlin (DE)
E 13 TVöD
Closing date
1 Aug 2023

View more

Computing, Life Science, Physics
Job Type
PhD Studentship
Employment - Hours
Full time
Fixed term


The Center for Humans and Machines (CHM) at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin conducts interdis­ciplinary science to understand, anticipate, and shape major disruptions from digital media and Artificial Intelligence to the way we think, learn, work, play, cooperate, and govern. Our goal is to understand how machines are shaping human society today and how they may continue to shape it in the future. The Center is comprised of an interdis­ciplinary, international, and diverse group of scholars and a science support team.

To complement this team, we are looking to fill up to four (4)

Ph.D. positions on generative AI in a human-machine society
(E 13 TVöD; 39 hours / week)

Under the supervision of Prof. Iyad Rahwan, your research focus may align with at least one of the following areas:

Cultural Evolution
This research area entails the exploration of innovation, creativity, and cultural evolution within a human-machine society consisting of both humans and AI. Your work will include the design and implemen­tation of generative AI systems, with the aim of investi­gating phenomena such as human-AI social learning and the emergence of novel concepts.

Strategic Dynamics
This research area investigates the impact of AI on the dynamics of strategic interactions within a human-machine society. Your research will include the fine-tuning of large language models for participation in strategic games with human counterparts. The objective is to yield insights into unresolved questions concerning algorithmic governance and the manifestation of human-machine behavior.

The Position

  • We seek to hire predoctoral researchers to work on ambitious, high-impact research anticipating the societal impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Projects will be conducted under the supervision of Prof. Iyad Rahwan and may involve collaboration with a team of interdisciplinary colleagues at the center.
  • The predoctoral fellow(s) will collaborate with and support senior researchers in ongoing projects conducting empirical studies, analyzing data, and publishing research findings in leading scientific journals while developing their Ph.D. projects in line with the center’s research themes and methods.
  • The research will involve building generative AI models which interact with humans in large-scale online experiments.
  • The position will include generous support for computational equipment and computing (e.g., GPU cluster), recruitment of sizable online participant cohorts, travel to conferences and collaborators, and funds for hiring freelance designers and developers to produce bespoke online experiments.
  • The position is limited to three years.
  • Starting date is October 1, 2023, or later.

Your Profile
The successful applicant must have the following:

  • Applicants must hold, or expect to hold by the starting date, a Master's degree in a computational science field (e.g., computational social science, computer science, cognitive science, physics, applied mathematics, or related)
  • Solid theoretical knowledge in cognitive science, machine learning, or computational social science and eager to learn
  • Strong technical skills in applying Artificial Intelligence, especially deep learning, to natural language processing, computer vision, or reinforcement learning
  • Knowledge of the deep learning ecosystem (e.g., PyTorch, JAX, and Hugging Face)
  • A commitment to following the best methodological practices in computer and behavioral sciences such as pre-registration of studies, sharing of well-documented computer code, version control such as Git, writing reproducible research reports, open sharing of data whenever feasible, etc.
  • High proficiency in English
  • High motivation and ability to work independently and as part of an (interdisciplinary) team alongside other computational scientists and behavioral scientists. Ability to coordinate feedback from teams of senior collaborators
  • Willingness to present and communicate research in internal and external seminars and conferences 

Desirable Skills Include

  • Experience designing and conducting behavioral or economic experiments.
  • Experience developing and deploying interactive web applications (e.g., React, FastAPI, Docker, Kubernetes).
  • Demonstrated experience with applying AI in creative domains such as using large language models in creative writing or using diffusion models in visual art.
  • Familiarity with common concepts in cultural evolution or experience working with cultural data.

Our Offer

  • An interesting position at the internationally renowned Center for Humans and Machines.
  • Working in a dynamic multidisciplinary team with colleagues from experimental psychology, evolutionary anthropology, art, science, economics, computer science, and physics.
  • Regular mentoring and supervision: you will have regular meetings with Iyad Rahwan and senior researchers in the center to discuss your research progress and help overcome any hurdles along your research journey.
  • Workshops: participate in internal and external workshops designed to enhance your soft skills like writing and presenting and technical abilities in areas such as reproducible research, ML methods, and DevOps, thereby preparing you for diverse roles in academia and industry.
  • Room to develop and realize your ideas: with a dedicated yearly budget at your disposal, you can bring your unique research ideas to life.
  • Support with public outreach (e.g., social media, print media, or exhibitions).
  • Possibility to work partly from home office.

Your Application
The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality. We welcome applications from all backgrounds. The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

To apply, please address a

  • statement of research interests
  • a CV without a photo
  • a copy of relevant certificates
  • if applicable, (p)reprints of max. three publications led by the applicant
  • a list of three referees

to: Prof. Dr. Iyad Rahwan, MPI for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin.

Please submit all documents in ONE FILE via our recruiting platform

Applications will be evaluated on a first-come-first-served basis and will continue to be received until July 1st, 2023, or until the position(s) is/are filled.

The data protection declaration for the processing of personal data within the scope of your application can be found here:


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