Responsible Intelligent Systems


PhD position

The REINS project aims to provide a framework for automating responsibility, liability, and risk checking for intelligent systems. As intelligent systems are increasingly integrated into our daily life, the division, assignment and checking of responsibilities between human and artificial agents become increasingly important. From robots in medicine, the military and transportation (self-driving cars); to automated trading agents on the financial markets (algotrades); to automated monitoring, prediction and protection systems (pacemakers, automated surveillance, early warning systems); we delegate more and more responsibility to intelligent devices. By delegating responsibilities to intelligent devices, we run the risk of losing track of our indirect legal and moral liabilities.

REINS sub-project 3: Formal Responsibility Checking

In the third sub-project of REINS we investigate how to apply known techniques from this program verification domain (model checking, theorem proving) to the responsibility checking domain. We aim to develop translations from logical formalism for representing (graded) responsibilities and normative systems, such as the ones developed in sub-projects 1 and 2, to formalisms for which model checkers and theorem provers already exist.
The candidate is expected to:

  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the nominal time-frame;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at our internal colloquium and at international workshops and conferences;
  • collaborate with the other researchers in the REINS project;
  • participate in the organization of research activities and events such as conferences, workshops and symposia;
  • assist in teaching activities.


  • a research oriented master’s degree (MSc or MA);
  • a demonstrable interest in logic;
  • affinity with problems of philosophy and/or legal theory;
  • some experience with or knowledge of formal verification/model checking/theorem proving.

Terms of employment

An appointment as assistent in opleiding (see overview).

The candidate is offered a full-time position for four years. Salary starts at € 2,083.- and increases to € 2,664.- gross per month in the fourth year of the appointment.

The salary is supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition we offer: a pension scheme, a partially paid parental leave, flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

The research group will provide the candidate with necessary support on all aspects of the project.

About the organization

Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Sustainability, Life Sciences, Youth & Identity, and Institutions. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally renowned for its fundamental research in computer science and information science. Its research is positioned around game technology, one of the four research themes of the Faculty of Science. The research of the department is grouped into four divisions: Artificial Intelligence, Interaction Technology, Software Systems and Virtual Worlds. The Department offers bachelor programmes in computer science and information science, and four English-language research master-programmes including Artificial Intelligence. High enrollment figures and good student ratings make the education very successful.

The division Artificial Intelligence comprises the chairs Intelligent Systems, Decision Support Systems and Algorithmic Data Analysis. Together these groups cover a broad spectrum of subjects in Artificial Intelligence, ranging from symbolic logic approaches to sub-symbolic evolutionary approaches, from agent programming to machine learning, from knowledge discovery to knowledge representation and from Bayesian networks to applied algorithmics for AI.

How to apply

Candidates are invited to send (1) a motivation letter, (2) a CV, (3) the e-mail address of a referee and (4) a pdf of their master thesis plus grades.

Please reply not later than October 20, 2014. Please send your application (including a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae and contact details of at least two references) via the link Solliciteer at the end of the official vacancy page

More information can be obtained from:

dr. ir. J.M. Broersenprof. dr. J-J.Ch. Meyer


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