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PhD Studentship - Human-Centred AI: Teaching Machines To Think Like Humans

Web & Internet Science

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Thursday 30 June 2022
Reference:  1836822FP

Supervisory Team:    Professor Jie Tang, Professor Dame Wendy Hall

Project description

Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence (HCAI) is a strategic research topic for Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) and its Web and Internet Science research group (WAIS). AI creates new kinds of interaction between the computational and human constituents of very large scale information systems. AI is not a singular computational technique but a range of technical interventions that raise complex questions about markets, social need, and ethical acceptability. As AI technologies become involved in human life it is increasingly obvious that we need to study the development and deployment of artificially intelligent data processes as deeply socially entwined activities.

Professor Jie Tang is a member of the WAIS group who has been working on the world's largest natural-language pre-training model, called Wu Dao, targeted at understanding and generating coherent text and images based on content and images. His ambition is to explore the concept of the metahuman - a personification of the Wu Dao model, able to learn from all kinds of data to improve their cognition over time and so to be able to compose music, reason, react to emotions, answer questions and even write computer code.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall is Regius Professor of Computer Science in the WAIS group. She is the UK government’s first Skills Champion for AI and a member of the newly formed AI Council. Her research focuses on trusted data sharing with AI systems to achieve socially desirable outcomes.

We are inviting applications for postgraduate students to join this research team where you will be supervised by a world-leading international academic team consisting of Professors Tang and Hall. You will be part of a broader cohort of students investigating the challenges of a future AI society in the University’s cross-disciplinary Web Science Institute (WSI). Your research will be supported by relevant training according to your individual needs offered through your research group (WAIS), and you will also benefit from opportunities offered by the WSI and by its partnership with the UK’s Alan Turing Institute. 

Project start date:    Sept / Oct 2022

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Mark Weal ( or Alison Tebbutt (

Entry Requirements

A good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in a computational subject plus evidence of multidisciplinary research.

Applicants will need to demonstrate skills in the following:

- machine learning algorithms and natural language processing

- coding (python and others)

- interdisciplinary or socio-technical study

- writing and communication

- data handling and analysis

Closing date: 30 June 2022. Later applications may be considered until the position is filled.

Funding:  For UK students, tuition fees and a stipend of £16,062 p.a. at current research council rates for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Apply online:

Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering. Next page “PhD Computer Science (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor, Professor Jie Tang.  

Applications should include

Research Proposal – see our guidelines for preparing a research proposal

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

For further information please contact: 

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