Principal AI Research Engineer


Full Time Senior-level / Expert
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Earth Species Project
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Posted 3 weeks ago

The Earth Species Project (ESP) is a nonprofit dedicated to decoding animal communication and translating non-human language.

We work with biologists and machine learning researchers, including luminaries from Cornell, Imperial College of London, Simons Institute, University of Oxford, MIT, UC Davis, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the Internet Archive, and the Jane Goodall Institute.

We have the honor to be supported by some of the world’s most forward-looking philanthropists and groups, including the Internet Archive, and TED Audacious 2020, as a founding member of Project CETI, a seven-year multi-university collaboration. Our work has been the subject of NPR's Invisibilia documentary, “Two Heart Beats a Minute” and “How to Talk to Animals” on Wall Street Journal’s The Future of Everything.  

This earth-shot aims to enable every person to more deeply understand our co-inhabitants on Earth and in so doing, to permanently alter human perspective and culture.

We are hiring a Principal AI Researcher to lead our machine learning team.

Purpose of role

The Principal Researcher will sit as part of the management team for the Earth Species Project. Along with the research team, you will be responsible for developing and executing pioneering research towards decoding and translating non-human languages, including extending unsupervised translation techniques and tackling cornerstone biological and computational problems on large-scale multimodal behavioral data.

You will work with biology and machine learning experts to create understanding from entirely new scopes and scales of data.


The Principal Researcher is responsible for helping grow the AI Research team and working with our academic partners, executive team, field biologists, and other machine learning experts to determine and execute the technical roadmap.

You will be responsible for guiding the research team’s outputs, from roadmap to academic publications.

You will work to push the boundary on the following kinds of problems (by no means an exhaustive list):

  • Efficiently detect and model multimodal animal behavior at a wide range of time-scales in massive data sets.
  • Extend human-to-human unsupervised machine translation techniques towards decoding completely unknown vocalized communication
  • Create blueprints of animal communication and design experiments to verify findings
  • Solve foundational computation and biology problems, like separating many simultaneous speakers into individual tracks and determine the number of speakers and speaker identity. (56% of elephant vocalizations overlap, and the diversity and density of communication in dolphins increase non-linearly with pod size.)

You’ll also help build the Earth Species Library, which aims to be the largest open repository of Earth’s cultural and behavioral biodiversity, ready for machine learning, with a pipeline for efficient cross-species analysis and experimentation.

The job is remote, located anywhere in the world. Our team spans the Bay Area, Utah, Miami, and Poland.

Your Background

We are open to traditional and non-traditional backgrounds.

Areas of expertise might include: unsupervised machine translation, self-supervised learning, multimodal learning, generative models, language models, natural language processing, geometric deep learning, linguistics, computational linguistics, bioacoustics, signal processing, data science, and information theory.

You may have led an academic or R&D team. You might play a musical instrument, or do long-distance running, enjoy teaching, wilderness trekking, or are an incredible parent. We’re excited about full human beings (and remain open to qualified non-primates).

Essential Personality Qualities

  • A passion for the research areas of focus of the ESP team
  • Should possess curiosity, integrity, reliability, and professionalism
  • Must have a positive attitude
  • Should have good interpersonal and teamwork skills: we are collaborative inside and outside our organization.
  • A desire to advance the fields of conservation biology and artificial intelligence
  • Track record of achieving results via publications, grants, fellowships, writings, or patents
  • Enjoy explaining difficult concepts simply.


  • Competitive pay, health insurance, and ample PTO
  • Work with top biologists and conservation luminaries.
  • Spend time in the field with the animals we are studying (Post-COVID: think, kayaking with feeding humpbacks in Alaska, or freediving with sperm whales in Tonga)

The Earth Species Project is a globally distributed team endeavoring to make a global and social impact. Creating a culture  where all can thrive and be their authentic self is essential to our mission. We believe our success depends on our diversity and fostering an inclusive environment that supports creativity and innovation. As an organization we are committed to promoting equity and belonging both in our work and in our workplace environment. We are committed to equal employment opportunities regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. We also consider qualified applicants with criminal histories, consistent with legal requirements.

Apply here

Job tags: AI Deep Learning Machine Learning Nonprofit R Research
Job region(s): Remote/Anywhere
Job stats:  391  49  1
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