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Seconded National Expert – Scientific Project Officer – Algorithmic transparency – Research

Category: Seconded National Expert (SNE)

Location: Seville, Spain or Ispra, Italy

Duration: Initial contract duration of 24 months (possible starting date 1st quarter 2023)

Deadline: (Deadline is established internally by the Commission/DG HR. Please check with your Permanent Representation).

REF: JRC-B-6_Research

This vacancy notice is open to:

  • Member States

Job title

Scientific Project Officer – Algorithmic transparency – Research

We are

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the science and knowledge service of the European Commission: our mission is to support EU policies with independent evidence throughout the whole policy cycle.

The current vacancy is with the newly formed European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency (ECAT), which, through its scientific and technical expertise and analyses, will reinforce the European Commission’s supervisory role in the context of the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) – in close collaboration with the Directorate General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). The ECAT will be established in the second half of 2022 and will be located in three JRC sites (Seville, Ispra and Brussels).

More details about the JRC

The EU Digital Services Act (DSA) is the world’s first platform regulation that seeks to comprehensively address the most pressing societal risks emerging from the use of online platforms. Amongst other challenges, it focuses on tackling the dissemination of illegal content, goods and services online, protecting freedom of expression, and addressing disinformation.

It imposes obligations for online intermediaries and platforms (e.g. online marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms, app stores, and online travel and accommodation platforms) according to their role, size and impact in society. It seeks to empower users of digital services – for example by regulating advertising and recommender systems on online platforms – and to protect them, by imposing obligations on digital services and holding them accountable through an unprecedented transparency mechanism.

Since a wider reach is coupled with the most severe risks, very large platforms and search engines with a user base of more than 45 million monthly average users (representing around 10% of the EU population) bear special obligations. Most prominently, they will be subject to a supervised risk management obligation and will need to adapt their service, their systems and their algorithms to address the societal risks they may pose. They will be subject to external independent auditing and will be under public scrutiny from civil society, vetted researchers and others.

This adaptive and anticipatory legal framework needs strong regulatory supervision and cutting-edge competence within the regulators. The European Commission will lead the supervision and enforcement of obligations for the largest platforms and search engines. This vacancy is part of the Commission’s efforts to strengthen its capability and prepare for the enforcement of the rules. The Regulation was proposed by the European Commission in December 2020 and should enter into force in the last quarter of 2022.

We propose

The jobholder will join an interdisciplinary and multicultural team of researchers working in the ECAT and more broadly contribute to the JRC’s research portfolio on Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence and algorithmic transparency. S/he will work in close collaboration with a wide range of partners, in particular legal and policy experts in the enforcement units of the European Commission, in DG CONNECT, external researchers and scientists, and other various stakeholders in EU Member States and civil society organisations.

The jobholder will work at the intersection between scientific research and policymaking. On the research side, s/he will contribute to establishing a research roadmap and carry out independent research in the area of online platforms’ and online search engines’ algorithms. This will include e.g. defining methodologies for testing risk mitigation measures and for ensuring fairness, transparency, human oversight and social well-being, and for analysing the impact of the use of algorithms in society, including on fundamental rights. On the policy side, s/he will support the ECAT’s activities on the implementation and enforcement of the DSA, in close collaboration with other Commission services, other scientists and stakeholders/experts in the EU Member States and civil society organisations.

The work may involve:

  • research on methodologies for ensuring fairness, transparency, explainability and human oversight of algorithms;
  • collecting, processing and analysing data from various sources to assess the opportunities, risks and socio-economic impact of algorithms;
  • defining methodologies for the documentation, evaluation and auditing of algorithms;
  • providing scientific support to the implementation and enforcement of the Digital Services Act;
  • closely collaborating with colleagues involved in investigations of online platforms;
  • engaging and interacting with stakeholders and experts in the aforementioned areas, including algorithm auditing;
  • contributing to briefings and delivering input on short-term requests from key partners (under the supervision of responsible team leader);
  • nurturing a network of international researchers and research centres, including by drafting scientific publications and reports for a variety of audiences (experts/scientists, policy makers, the general public);
  • defining and following up external studies or service contracts.

Eligibility criteria

Diploma

  • university degree or
  • professional training or professional experience of an equivalent level  in the field(s) : computer science, data science, artificial intelligence or another field relevant to the position, ideally with a focus on algorithmic design and auditing.

Professional experience

At least 3 years of relevant research experience in the above-mentioned fields.

Furthermore, the following experience would be desirable:

  • Research results demonstrated by scientific publications in the field of algorithmic decision-making, addressing concerns such as fairness, transparency, explainability, human oversight and impact.
  • Practical experience in algorithmic decision-making of online platforms, such as recommender systems or search engines, focusing on their system-centric and/or user-centric assessment. 
  • Experience of working in interdisciplinary teams following replicability practices and leading community initiatives.

Language(s) necessary for the performance of duties

Very good (C1) knowledge of English.

Eligibility criteria for seconded national experts

Recruitement policy

The JRC:

  • Cultivates a workplace based on respect for other people and the environment;
  • Embraces non-discriminatory practices and equality of opportunity. In case of equal merit, preference will be given to the gender in minority;
  • Encourages learning and development possibilities.

How to apply

Please contact your Permanent Representation.

No applications should be sent to the JRC.