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Research Assistant / Associate in Machine Learning Benchmarking and Problem Design for the Animal-AI Olympics

Location: Imperial College London

Role information

Job description

Job summary

The Department of Computing is a leading department of Computer Science among UK Universities. It has consistently been awarded the highest research rating (5*) in Research Assessment Exercises (RAE) and is rated 10th in the world by the Times Higher Education International Outlook.  This post will be based at the South Kensington Campus.

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) is an interdisciplinary research centre funded by a £10 million grant from the Leverhulme Trust. It is based at the University of Cambridge with Imperial as a research partner where this position will be based. CFI’s goal is to ensure that we humans make the best of the opportunities of artificial intelligence as it develops over coming decades.

You will be working under the direction of Prof Murray Shanahan and Dr Matthew Crosby.

Duties and responsibilities

CFI is seeking a full-time researcher to design reinforcement learning (RL) tasks and test their suitability for use in a competition by running machine learning (ML) algorithms on them. The tasks will be written in MALMO, Microsoft's AI experimentation platform built on top of Minecraft. The project involves translating experiments from the animal cognition literature, used to test different aspects of intelligence, into AI problems. The translated problems need to be tested with common ML baselines to ensure that they are solvable, and to provide data for comparison. Results will be used to improve the competition design and update problem specifications where necessary.

The researcher will join the Animal-AI Olympics team on the Kinds of Intelligence project at CFI and have the opportunity to become involved with all aspects of the competition, including design and organisation. The position is based at Imperial College London but will include integration with the main CFI team at Cambridge. The applicant will also collaborate on the research papers that will come out of the competition. The competition is set to run during 2019, with the final results announced at the end of the year.

Essential requirements


  • Masters degree or PhD in Computing or related field.
  • Experience experimenting with standard deep reinforcement learning algorithms.
  • Familiarity with Python and TensorFlow (or equivalent).


  • Interest in the differences between Biological and Artificial Intelligence
  • Experience with cognitive experiments, especially aspects of intelligence commonly considered challenging for current AI approaches
  • Preference will be given to applicants with a proven research record and publications in the relevant areas.

Further information

In addition to completing the online application, candidates should attach: 

  • A CV (max two pages)
  • A one-page research statement indicating why you are interested in the above post and why your expertise is relevant.

For applications queries please contact Jamie Perrins:

For more information and to apply

Enquire about role