Data & Society Research Institute is seeking a Researcher or Postdoctoral Scholar to join the growing AI on the Ground Initiative and to lead our AI Safety International Case Book project. 


About the Initiative: AI on the Ground

The AI on the Ground Initiative (AIGI) conducts ethnographically-oriented research to inform AI design, implementation, and governance. We are a multi-disciplinary team of researchers who investigate the risks, harms, and possibilities of AI within diverse social contexts, including medicine, farming, retail, and governmental and humanitarian programs. We start with the conviction that the impact of AI systems and policies can only be fully understood by engaging with people on the ground whose lives and work are directly implicated–from government and business leaders, to scientists and engineers, to community activists and vulnerable groups. To realize AI’s social benefits, it is necessary to understand its risks and potential harms to people, communities, and institutions through empirically grounded research rather than speculation.  


About the Project: AI Safety International Case Book

The AI Safety International Case Book will be a collection of case studies designed to enrich current conceptions of the possibilities and potential harms of AI outside American and European contexts. The Case Book researcher will work with the AIGI Initiative Lead and Director of Research to identify and investigate use cases and algorithmic harms in international contexts. What does it mean for an AI system to be safe, or to protect individual or community safety? How can contrasting and sometimes contradictory notions of safety and security globally be productively understood when designing and implementing AI systems in the future?

The Case Book researcher will be responsible for gathering and analyzing data as well as producing public-facing research outputs. In addition, they will work with the Initiative Lead and Director of Research to propose applied outcomes—for instance, informing the current best practices of AI for Good projects.


About the position: Researcher / Postdoctoral Scholar

We are looking for a researcher (someone working outside of traditional academia) or postdoctoral scholar (someone looking to return to an academic job) to join this team, either based in New York or working remotely. This is an 18-24 month position, depending on start date, with pay commensurate with experience. 

Candidates should demonstrate experience carrying out or coordinating international, collaborative research projects and producing written materials to communicate research findings.



  • Excellent research and written communication skills.
  • Ability to organize and synthesize large amounts of information.
  • Ability to work independently and problem solve.
  • 3+ years carrying out or coordinating field research.
  • Fluency in English and at least one other language.
  • Access to reliable, high-speed internet.


  • Experience researching the impact of new technologies.
  • Demonstrated ability to spot new areas of research or problem spaces.
  • Experience with participatory research methods. 
  • Experience communicating research for non-academic and non-specialist audiences, including blog posts, workshops, zines, newsletters, etc.

Practical considerations:

  • The location of this position is flexible, and candidates based outside of New York or the United States are encouraged to apply. 
  • If you wish to be based in the U.S., you must be eligible to work in the United States. Data & Society is unable to sponsor visas at this time.
  • You will be offered a generous benefits package including health insurance, paid time off (PTO), and paid holidays.
  • Salary: $70K – $80K (Commensurate to experience)



To Apply, please submit the following materials by January 5, 2020.

  • Cover letter explaining why you are right for this role and your interest in working at Data & Society.
    • [Postdoctoral Scholar applicants, please describe your current research agenda, your dissertation topic, and your planned research and professional trajectory. Also, please indicate your desired start date and position length and when you received/will receive your PhD];
  • Resume or CV.
  • A one page proposal (approx 500 words) for a potential case study that you would like to pursue as part of the AI Safety International Casebook (if you have multiple projects in mind, please feel free to send two distinct proposals). Your proposal should describe the research question or problem, field site/data, methodology, and potential implications of doing this research project, as well as the connection to Data & Society’s mission and research priorities. Writing sample (i.e. blog post, news article, journal article, conference proceedings, book chapter)
  • The names, affiliations, and email addresses of three recommenders. We will not contact them before speaking with you.


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and the position is considered open until filled. Please feel free to contact with any questions about the position. 

Questions about the opportunity or process will not reflect negatively on your application.


About Data & Society

The issues that Data & Society seeks to address are complex. The same innovative technologies and socio-technical practices that are reconfiguring society – enabling novel modes of interaction, new opportunities for knowledge, and disruptive business paradigms – can be abused to invade people’s privacy, provide new tools of discrimination, and harm individuals and communities.

To provide frameworks that can help society address emergent tensions, Data & Society is committed to identifying thorny issues at the intersection of technology and society, providing and encouraging research that can ground informed, evidence-based public debates, and building a network of researchers and practitioners who can anticipate issues and offer insight and direction.

Data & Society’s programming brings together different perspectives, research methods, and practices. We weave together researchers, entrepreneurs, activists, policy creators, journalists, geeks, and public intellectuals. We see tremendous reciprocal benefits for network building and research when they are combined.

The work and well-being of Data & Society are strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We are committed to making certain that a wide array of perspectives are heard and that our research is publicly available. We welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities.

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