PhD student on the subject of collaborative AI (m/v/x)

PhD student on the subject of collaborative AI (m/v/x)

Are you inspired by building human-centric, explainable, and collaborative AI? There is a vacancy for a 4-year PhD position in the Intelligent and Autonomous Systems research group at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam.

Job description

Are you passionate about human-AI teamwork? Unfortunately, users often do not understand current AI decision-making very well, leading to decreased trust and acceptance. Additionally, current AI systems do not understand users very well, making their decisions blind to the users' actual needs and preferences. This hinders successful human-AI collaboration.

Motivated by this, this PhD position aims at enabling deeper and more meaningful interaction and collaboration of AIs and users. Our overall objective is to build interactive and understandable AI systems that empower end-users by providing them with flexible, personalized solutions and decision support.

We offer you the exciting opportunity to join the “Align4Energy” research project (involving academia, industry, and non-profit partners), with the overall goal of making the energy use of Dutch homes more sustainable. The project will develop AI decision support tools for citizens, policymakers, and energy system developers. Your role will be to develop novel human-centric AI algorithms and techniques, to enable interactions that allow humans to better understand and trust their AI tools, and that allow AI systems to better understand and support their human users. The key idea is to expand the traditional paradigm of XAI, in which users receive only inflexible AI solutions, and are offered only one-off, one-size-fits-all explanations for them – which is not sufficient for complex collaborative tasks. Instead, we aim for users and AI systems to explore possible plans and solutions together, and for improved feedback loops and two-way communication flow between them; for more fluid mutual learning and reasoning, and a more helpful conversation between humans and AI.

Topics of interest include:

  • AI learning, planning, and optimization methods which have the ability to propose a variety of solutions upon request, allowing for adaptation and refinement of solutions over time (including explicitly multiobjective methods).
  • Dynamic world and user models in combination with novel methods for their maintenance from interpreting both direct and indirect feedback from the user (including single users as well as multiple users whose interests are to be aligned).
  • Enhanced algorithms for explaining AI decisions/recommendations which are interactive and responsive to user feedback, allowing for adaptation and refinement of explanations over time (including automated argumentation methods).
  • Novel techniques for the collaborative exploration of solutions in a human-AI team, to make the best use of the strengths of both, and ensure human autonomy and agency.

Within this broad range of topics, there is much academic freedom in the choice of specific research questions.

We offer one full-time 4-year PhD position. The student will join the Intelligent and Autonomous Systems group at CWI, and receive their PhD degree from Technical University Eindhoven. Join us to help shape the future of human-AI collaboration!


  • Candidates are required to have a master's degree in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, or a related field.
  • Self-drive, enthusiasm, curiosity, and a research-oriented attitude.
  • Interest in combining theory and experiments and well-developed analytical skills.
  • Programming skills e.g. in Python and/or Java.
  • Theoretical knowledge and practical experience with artificial intelligence and sequential decision-making, esp. reinforcement learning and/or planning, are an advantage.
  • Ability to work in an international, interdisciplinary team, and interest in collaborating with industrial partners.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English.

Terms and conditions

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres ("CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen"). The initial labour agreement will be for a period of 18 months. After a positive evaluation, the agreement will be extended by 30 months. The gross monthly salary, for a PhD student on a full time basis, is € 2,781 during the first year and increases to €3,562 over the four year period. Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible scheduling and help with housing for expat employees.

Please visit our websites for more information about our terms of employment: and​​​​​

Information and application

We invite you to submit a complete application by using the “Apply” button on this page. The application should include:
•          Cover letter in which you describe your personal motivation and qualifications for the specific position.

•          Curriculum vitae, including the contact information of two referees.

•          Your final master’s thesis, including English abstracts, and your publications (if any) as PDF files. Submit at least one document written in English of which you are the main author (this could be your thesis, or a term paper, or anything else that you wrote and consider relevant).

•          Copies of diplomas and course grades.

We do not respond to applications that are sent to us in a different way. Both national and international applications for these positions are appreciated. We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled. Promising candidates will be contacted by email.

For residents outside the EER-area, a Toefl English language test might be required.

For more information about the vacancy, please contact Hendrik Baier ( or Eric Pauwels (

For more information about CWI, please visit or watch our video about working at CWI.

CWI encourages a diverse workforce: we endeavour to develop talent and creativity by bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together. We recruit and select based on capabilities and talent. We strongly encourage everyone with the appropriate qualifications to apply for the vacancy, regardless of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation or physical abilities.

Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to work on pioneering research in the field of human-centric AI!

Diversity code

CWI encourages a diverse workforce: we endeavour to develop talent and creativity by bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together. We recruit and select based on capabilities and talent. We strongly encourage everyone with the appropriate qualifications to apply for the vacancy, regardless of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation or physical abilities.

About CWI

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is part of the Institutes Organisation of the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The mission of CWI is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to trade, industry, and society at large.

CWI is an internationally oriented institute, with 160 scientists from approximately 27 countries, an informal atmosphere and short lines of communication. We have an activity committee that organizes after-work activities and an informal women’s network.  

CWI is located at Science Park Amsterdam, the home of AMS-IX, that is presently developing into a major location of research in the physical sciences in The Netherlands, housing the sciences of the University of Amsterdam as well as several other national research institutes next to CWI.

About Research group

To find more information about the group, please visit the group page and watch their video.