About the position
A 4-year Doctoral Research Fellowship in the PhD programme Innovation in Services in the Public and Private Sectors (INSEPP) is available at the Inland School of Business and Social Sciences (Campus Lillehammer). The candidate’s research project will be on an ethical, or, more broadly, philosophical issue concerning the new voice and speech technologies (see About the project). It will also include relevant perspective(s) from innovation studies.
The 4-year position includes 25% teaching duties. Depending on the faculty’s needs, and the candidat’s competence and desires, employment can be made for a 3-year position, 100% without teaching duties. The position is fully funded (salaried).
The purpose of the PhD Research Fellowship for the admitted candidate is to undergo a research training programme that leads to the successful completion of a doctoral degree. The candidate has to apply to the PhD programme INSEPP and is expected to participate actively in INSEPP’s activities.
The candidate will be affiliated with the Department of Law, Philosophy and International studies, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences. The Doctoral Candidate will be part of the Philosophy Research Group at the same department and can participate in the group’s activities, including a bi-weekly colloquium and a reading group.
In addition to training and research activities at INSEPP and at the department, the Doctoral Candidate will have an opportunity to take part in relevant activities of the Perceiving Voice and Speaker project funded by the Young Researcher Talents Programme from the Research Council of Norway and hosted at the same department.
Associate professor Anna Drożdżowicz, e-mail: [email protected]
Associate professor Lars Christie, e-mail: [email protected]
PhD-leader Martin Rønningen, phone number: +47 612 883 18, e-mail: [email protected]
About the project
Customer service call systems, car information systems, and so-called intelligent voice assistants such as Alexa or Siri have become popular commercial services around the world, entering people’s households and assisting them in various pursuits. New voice and speech technologies often rely on artificial intelligence programmes and are developed with an aim to recognise and process human speech, as well as to imitate speech and voice production.
The implementation of new voice and speech technologies is also expected to become more common in the public sector, for example in healthcare or education services in public institutions. Voice and speech technologies powered by artificial intelligence programmes are being developed to aid second language learning, to support remote healthcare delivery during crises and pandemics, in counselling or in care for older adults. Efforts are being made to make voice assistants sound attractive, trustworthy and humanlike, as well as to make their perceived audible personalities appealing and conversationally engaging.
Auditory and linguistic environments are being shaped by voice and speech technologies. Communication and social interactions in the public and private sphere are being transformed. Some of the voice intelligence technologies are also able to extract information about users, concerning for example, their height, age, current mood, based on what they say and how they sound. Such information can and will be used for the purpose of user profiling.
The growing presence of the new voice and speech technologies in private and public services poses interesting philosophical questions and raises a number of ethical problems:
- From a philosophical point of view, how is interaction with so-called intelligent voice assistants different from communication between humans?
- How can we responsibly develop, use and govern voice and speech technologies in the private sector?
- Should voice and speech technologies powered by artificial intelligence be implemented in specific services in the public sector, such as healthcare or education?
- If voice and speech technologies should be implemented in the public sector, what are the normative constraints that should guide their implementation?
- How should we address the privacy and confidentiality issues raised by voice and speech technologies and their applications in services in the private and public sector?
- How should voice assistants be designed so as not to reinforce negative social stereotypes and behaviours in services in private and public sectors?
We are looking for candidates who can develop and pursue a PhD project concerning these and similar research questions/areas. Please note that projects focusing on language technologies without a clear connection to voice and speech processing fall outside the scope of this call.
- A Master's degree or equivalent in philosophy. We also invite candidates who have a Master’s degree in other relevant disciplines, e.g., psychology, linguistics. Knowledge in domains of philosophy relevant for the project will be an asset.
- The person to be appointed must have a 2 years master’s degree, 120 ECTS, cf. the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education’s (NOKUT) requirements for admission to PhD-education at Norwegian universities. It is a requirement that the master’s education includes a master’s thesis of 30 ECTS. As a rule, the average grade must be B.
- Applicants with a Master’s degree from universities abroad, have to attach “Recognition of foreign higher education” from NOKUT. Instructions on how to get this master’s degree assessed and approved are given by NOKUT, cf. https://www.nokut.no/en/foreign-education/application-services--foreign-education/recognition-of-foreign-higher-education-bachelor-master-ph.d/#_1
- Fluent oral and written communication skills in English.
- Personal suitability and motivation for the position.
For information on PhD position in general, see Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, research fellow, research assistant and specialist candidate.
In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on:
- The project’s scientific merit, research-related relevance and innovation
- The applicant’s estimated academic and personal ability to complete the project within the time frame
- The applicant’s ability to complete research training
- Good collaboration skills and an ability to join interdisciplinary academic communities