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Research Associate - Major Transitions (Fixed Term)

Location: Cambridge

Role information

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) invites applications for a Postdoctoral Research Associate to work on the project The Major Transitions in the Evolution of Cognition, which spans multiple disciplines including machine learning, cognitive science and philosophy. The appointment will be for two years in the first instance, and is based in Cambridge.

This is a new post within the project, The Major Transitions in the Evolution of Cognition. This is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge (Marta Halina), Macquarie University (Andrew Barron), and The Australian National University (Colin Klein) that was launched in November 2020. This Research Associate will be based at the University of Cambridge, working with Marta Halina and the Animal-AI Testbed team (led by Matthew Crosby) as part of the Kinds of Intelligence programme at CFI.

The successful candidate will be required to adapt theories on major transitions into algorithms or neural network models whose capacities can be tested using the Animal-AI testbed. Animal-AI is a testbed and platform for measuring cognitive skills and can be used to compare human, animal, and AI capabilities. The Major Transitions project will collaborate with ongoing work to improve Animal-AI and the candidate will be expected to propose and facilitate the incorporation of new ideas for the testbed. The candidate should have experience and interest in cognitively inspired deep reinforcement learning or closely related approaches, especially those that have the potential to be applied in 3D environments. It is also important that the candidate can translate ideas between disciplines, taking ideas from computational and comparative neuroscience and philosophy, and implementing them in AI systems.

Candidates should have a PhD in a relevant field and should provide strong evidence of potential for research and publication at the highest level, as well as strong interest in engagement with the cognitive sciences. The appointee will also play an important role in the project's interdisciplinary activities, including discussion groups and workshops.

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

Please upload in the Upload section of the online application (1) your Curriculum Vitae (CV); (2) a Covering Letter of no more than 1,000 words, outlining a proposed research direction, and explaining how your skills and proposal would contribute to this project in particular, and CFI more broadly; (3) a Sample of Writing of no more than 5,000 words that demonstrates your suitability for this project; and (4) the names and contact details of two referees who are familiar with your work. If you upload any additional documents which have not been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

If you have any questions about this vacancy, please contact Molly Carrick at Please quote reference GO26950 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy. The closing date is Midnight (BST) on Friday 30th July.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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