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[ecrea] PhD scholarship in AI, personalisation and narratives

Wed Jul 04 22:25:17 GMT 2018

*Royal Holloway University of London, Departments: Media Arts, School of Management*

PhD scholarship

*‘Persons, people and personalisation: Understanding subjectivity through AI’*

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship on Artificial Intelligence (AI), personalisation and narratives at Royal Holloway, University of London, in partnership with a range of commercial firms (covering AI, media content production and gaming platforms). This award, tenable for three years and covering both fees and an enhanced maintenance grant, is made by the TECHNE AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership under the National Productivity Investment Fund Partnership Award scheme. The project, due to begin on the 1^st of September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter, will be supervised by Dr Olga Goriunova (Media Arts) and Professor Mark Lycett (School of Management).

*The Project*

AI-driven personalisation offers a clear opportunity for creative industries to more effectively engage audiences. But personalisation is reliant on profiles created from individual and collective data, raising questions as to what gaps exist between the models and human experience. This project will partner with world-leading media and AI firms to understand how such personalisation can be effectively and ethically exploited in story experiences to generate greater audience engagement. It addresses a clear creative industries business challenge with clear commercial returns.

Living human beings generate data that both individually and collectively feed the profile-creation and various other methods through which machine learning techniques personalise content. This raises several interesting research questions, such as:

  * How are living human beings mapped onto the profiles and personas
    used for personalisation?
  * How effective (or constraining) is that mapping process?
  * What ‘gaps’ exist between the AI ‘models’ of the human experience
    and the actual experiences of those humans when they receive their
    personalised content?
Consequently, this PhD focuses on such questions, covering the techniques of personalisation both in terms of machine learning innovation and their cultural effects, to the practical ones, on how specific audiences respond to personalised content. The overall aim of the project is to understand how effectively a ‘subjectivity’ modelled by AI works with human experiences, conceptually, technologically, ethically, and in terms of personalised cultural content.

The methodology for this project will draw ondigital and cultural theory, ethics, audience research and Design Science Research (DSR). Using mixed methods is the most fitting approach for an interdisciplinary PhD.  DSR will be especially useful in that it partners critical/theoretical reflection with a practical approach to delivering value to our partner via its: (a) iterative nature, promoting continuous learning between problems and solutions; (b) focus on utility, ensuring that the outcomes are of practical economic benefit; (c) ability to both integrate theory from reference disciplines and generate new theory via the design process; and (d) focus on improving a knowledge base via reflection on practice and generation of innovation.

*The Student*

The successful candidate will sit between two departments (Media Arts and School of Management) as part of the new Centre for Digital Creativity, working collaboratively with our industrial partners. We anticipate that this will include at least 9 months of work at a collaborator site over the tenure of the project. A good grasp of machine learning techniques is necessary, to further research on how those techniques ‘construct’ persons and audiences – thus, the successful candidate will be qualified to a level that demonstrates knowledge of both supervised and unsupervised machine learning techniques and their application in the context of personalisation. Ideally, this knowledge will be partnered with a critical cultural training, perhaps in fields, such as philosophy, ethics, social, media, digital and cultural theory or software studies – such that a critical perspective is brought to the work.

*The Studentship*

The studentship includes a stipend of £16,777 (plus fees at home/EU rates) for three years.  There is an additional NPIF stipend of £550 per year to facilitate engagement with the Partner, and students can apply for an additional six months stipend to engage in extended development activities such as work placements.

As a TECHNE student, the successful candidate will have full access to the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 50 students per year from across seven universities in London and the south-east. TECHNE students can apply for additional funding to support individual or group training and development activities.

Applicants must meet the UK/EU residency requirements as described Annex 1 of the ‘Research Council Training Grant Guide ’ and comply with the other Training Grant  conditions set out there and in the ‘Terms and Conditions of Training Grants’   Both documents are available at;

AHRC Techne Doctoral Training Consortium


*Further Information and How to Apply*

The post is based in Egham, Surrey where the College is situated in a beautiful, leafy campus and within commuting distance from London. The successful applicant should be prepared to spend significant time on secondment with industry partners.

For an informal discussion about the post, please contact Dr Olga Goriunova at (_olga.goriunova /at/ <mailto:(olga.goriunova /at/>_and Professor Mark Lycett at (_mark.lycett /at/ <mailto:(mark.lycett /at/>_


*How to Apply*

Applicants should submit the following to Dr Olga Goriunova at (olga.goriunova /at/ later than *10 August 2017*: (1) A two-page curriculum vitae, including contact details of one academic referee; (2) a 1 to 2 page letter outlining their qualification for the studentship; and (3) a writing sample if such is available.

*Interviews: *Shortlisted applicants will be notified by Monday, *20August*. Shortlisted candidates will be required to make a 10-minute presentation to a group of staff on their proposed take on this project.

Interviews are scheduled to be held at Royal Holloway on *28 August 2017*.


/The College is committed to equality and diversity, and encourages applications from all sections of the community./

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