Research Scholar (Technical Research)

Hybrid; Oxford, UK

Applications have closed

Centre for the Governance of AI

We are building a global research community, dedicated to helping humanity navigate the transition to a world with advanced AI

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About the Team

GovAI was founded to help humanity navigate the transition to a world with advanced AI. Our first research agenda, published in 2018, helped define and shape the nascent field of AI governance. Our team and affiliate community possess expertise in a wide variety of domains, including AI regulation, responsible development practices, compute governance, AI company corporate governance, US-China relations, and AI progress forecasting.

GovAI researchers — particularly those working within our Policy Team — have closely advised decision makers in government, industry, and civil society. Our researchers have also published in top peer-reviewed journals and conferences, including International OrganizationNeurIPS, and Science. Our alumni have gone on to roles in government, in both the US and UK; top AI companies, including DeepMindOpenAI, and Anthropic; top think tanks, including the Centre for Security and Emerging Technology and RAND; and top universities, including the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

Although we are based in Oxford, United Kingdom — and currently have an especially large UK policy focus — we also have team members in the United States and European Union.

About the Role

Research Scholar is a one-year visiting position. It is designed to support the career development of AI governance researchers and practitioners — as well as to offer them an opportunity to do high-impact work.

As a Research Scholar, you will have freedom to pursue a wide range of styles of work. This could include conducting policy research, social science research, or technical research; engaging with and advising policymakers; or launching and managing applied projects. 

For example, past and present Scholars have used the role to:

  • produce an influential report on the benefits and risks of open-source AI;
  • conduct technical research into questions that bear on compute governance;
  • take part in the UK policy-making process as a part-time secondee in the UK government; and
  • launch a new organisation to facilitate international AI governance dialogues.

Over the course of the year, you will also deepen your understanding of the field, connect with a network of experts, and build your skills and professional profile, all while working within an institutional home that offers both flexibility and support.

You will receive research supervision from a member of the GovAI team or network. The frequency of supervisor meetings and feedback will vary depending on supervisor availability, although once-a-week or once-every-two-weeks supervision meetings are typical. There will also be a number of additional opportunities for Research Scholars to receive feedback, including internal work-in-progress seminars. You will receive further support from Emma Bluemke, GovAI's Research Manager.

Some Research Scholars may also — depending on the focus of their work — take part in GovAI’s Policy Team, which is led by Markus Anderljung. Members of the GovAI Policy Team do an especially large amount of policy engagement and coordinate their work more substantially. They also have additional team meetings and retreats. While Policy Team members retain significant freedom to choose projects, there is also an expectation that a meaningful portion of their work will fit into the team’s joint priorities.

Highlighted Interest Area: Technical Research

In this round, we would especially like to highlight our interest in candidates who can conduct technical research to inform AI governance decisions. This type of research is sometimes known as “technical governance.”

Examples of technical governance questions include:

These kinds of questions often have foundational policy implications, but most AI governance researchers lack the technical expertise needed to answer them. For that reason, we are especially excited to receive applications from candidates with strong technical backgrounds.

Qualifications and Selection Criteria

We are open to candidates with a wide range of backgrounds. We have previously hired or hosted researchers with academic backgrounds in computer science, political science, public policy, economics, history, philosophy, and law. We are also interested in candidates with professional backgrounds in government, industry, and civil society.

For all candidates, we will look for:

  • A strong interest in using their career to positively influence the lasting impact of artificial intelligence, in line with our organisation’s mission
  • Demonstrated ability to produce excellent work (typically research outputs) or achieve impressive results
  • Self-direction and proactivity
  • The ability to evaluate and prioritise projects on the basis of impact
  • A commitment to intellectual honesty and rigour
  • Receptiveness to feedback and commitment to self-improvement
  • Strong communication skills
  • Collaborativeness and motivation to help others succeed
  • Some familiarity with the field of AI governance
  • Some expertise in a domain that is relevant to AI governance 
  • A compelling explanation of how the Research Scholar position may help them to have a large impact

For candidates who are hoping to do particular kinds of work (e.g. technical research) or work on particular topics (e.g. US policy), we will also look for expertise and experience that is relevant to the particular kind of work they intend to do.

There are no educational requirements for the role. We have previously made offers to candidates at a wide variety of career stages. However, we expect that the most promising candidates will typically have either graduate study or relevant professional experience.

Duration, Location, and Salary

Duration

Contracts will be for a fixed 12-month term. Although renewal is not an option for these roles, Research Scholars may apply for longer-term positions at GovAI — for instance, Research Fellow positions — once their contracts end.

Location

Although GovAI is based in Oxford, we are a hybrid organisation. Historically, a slight majority of our Research Scholars have actually chosen to be based in countries other than the UK. However, in some cases, we do have significant location preferences:

  • If a candidate plans to focus heavily on work related to a particular government’s policies, then we generally prefer that the candidate is primarily based in or near the most relevant city. For example, if someone plans to focus heavily on US federal policy, we will tend to prefer that they are based in or near Washington, DC.

     
  • If a candidate would likely be involved in managing projects or launching new initiatives to a significant degree, then we will generally prefer that they are primarily based out of our Oxford office.

     
  • Some potential Oxford-based supervisors (e.g. Ben Garfinkel) also have a significant preference for their supervisees being primarily based in Oxford.

If you have location restrictions - and concerns about your ability to work remotely might prevent you from applying - please inquire at recruitment@governance.aiNote that we are able to sponsor both UK visas and US visas.

Salary

Depending on their experience, we expect that successful candidates’ annual compensation will typically fall between £60,000 (~$75,000) and £75,000 (~$95,000) if based in Oxford, UK. If a Research Scholar resides predominantly in a city with a higher cost of living, their salary will be adjusted to account for the difference. As reference points, a Research Scholar with five years of relevant postgraduate experience would receive about £66,000 (~$83,000) if based in Oxford and about $94,000 if based in Washington DC. In rare cases where salary considerations would prevent a candidate from accepting an offer, there may also be some flexibility in compensation.

Benefits associated with the role include health, dental, and vision insurance, a £5,000 (~$6,000) annual wellbeing budget, an annual commuting budget, flexible work hours, extended parental leave, ergonomic equipment, a competitive pension contribution, and 25 days of paid vacation in addition to public holidays.

Please inquire with recruitment@governance.ai if questions or concerns regarding compensation or benefits might affect your decision to apply.

How to Apply and What to Expect

The application process consists of a written submission in the first round, a paid remote work test in the second round, and a final interview round. The interview round usually consists of one interview but might involve an additional interview in some cases. We also conduct reference checks for all candidates we interview.

Please feel free to reach out to recruitment@governance.ai if you would need a decision communicated by a particular date, if you need assistance with the application due to a disability, or if you have questions about the application process. If you have any questions specifically related to the GovAI Policy Team, feel free to reach out to markus.anderljung@governance.ai.

We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, and we encourage individuals with underrepresented perspectives and backgrounds to apply. We especially encourage applications from women, gender minorities, people of colour, and people from regions other than North America and Western Europe who are excited about contributing to our mission. We are an equal opportunity employer.

Tags: AI governance Anthropic Computer Science Economics NeurIPS OpenAI Open Source Privacy Research Security

Perks/benefits: Career development Competitive pay Conferences Flex hours Flex vacation Gear Health care Insurance Parental leave Team events

Region: Remote/Anywhere
Country: United Kingdom
Job stats:  721  110  2
Category: Research Jobs

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