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Research Associate

Heriot-Watt University - School of Mathematics and Computer Science (MACS)

Location: Edinburgh
Salary: £36,023 to £44,263 per annum, Grade 7
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 30th January 2024
Closes: 26th February 2024
Job Ref: 3548

Duration: 22 months

The main duties of this position include a) implementing models to detect online GBV, and generate counter narratives aimed at perpetrators and bystanders, b) collecting high-quality annotation data both via crowdsourcing and in collaboration with experts from our charity partners. 

The successful applicant is expected to perform collaborative research on AI, NLP and machine learning within an international consortium, publish at high-impact conferences and journals in their field, and disseminate their work at national and international conferences and outreach events. Experience with machine learning methods in NLP, Generative AI, and Ethics in NLP are highly desirable.

The position is available, at grade 7, for 22 months initially, with opportunities for extension dependent on performance and future funding applications.

In “Equally Safe Online”, we address the timely topic of online gender-based violence (GBV): Almost 1 in every 2 women and non-binary people (46%) reported experiencing online abuse since the beginning of COVID-19 (Glitch report, 2020). Our aim is to create 'equally safe' online spaces by prevention, intervention and support for online GBV through the development of advanced Machine Learning algorithms. Our methodology is based on the Scottish Government's Equally Safe strategy and implements a Responsible Innovation Approach in a close collaboration with 3rd sector charities with a long-standing track record in this domain 

Key duties and responsibilities:

  • To implement and evaluate models to detect online GBV;
  • To implement and evaluate (automatically and via human evaluation) models that generate counter narratives aimed at perpetrators and bystanders;
  • To promote 'equitable' algorithms which are able to reflect multiple perspectives/viewpoints and not marginalise minority views;
  • To collect high-quality annotation data for detection and both via crowdsourcing and in collaboration with experts from our charity partners. 

Essential Criteria:

  • Experience (at PhD level or equivalent) in NLP, NLG, Ethics in NLP, AI, Machine Learning, or related research areas;
  • Machine learning model development using popular deep learning architectures such as PyTorch, Tensorflow, etc;

 Desirable Criteria:

  • Experience at conducting experiments with human participants for system evaluation.
  • Prior research in the field of Ethics in NLP;
  • Research experience with Natural Language Generation, in particular generative models such as (Large) Language Models;
  • Collaborative research experience in large projects;
  • Prior research experience with societal/ethics issues such as Hate Speech, Toxicity, Gender Based Violence.

How to Apply 

Applications can be submitted until midnight on the 26th February 2024. 

When applying, please include a CV and cover letter addressing these selection criteria. 

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