Dstl Research Fellow (Digital Ethics)

Alan Turing Institute London United Kingdom Research Programmes
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Company Description

The Alan Turing Institute

There has never been a more significant time to work in data science and AI. There is recognition of the importance of these technologies to our economic and social future: the so-called fourth industrial revolution. The technical challenge of keeping our data secure and private has grown in its urgency and importance. At the same time, voices from academia, industry, and government are coming together to debate how these technologies should be governed and managed.

The Alan Turing Institute, as the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, plays an important part in driving forward advances in these technologies in order to change the world for the better. Its defence and security programme works at the cutting edge of data science, in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ, to deliver an ambitious programme of data science research. Its public policy programme also plays a crucial leadership and advisory role in the public sector, working alongside policy makers to explore how data-driven public service provision and policy innovation might solve long running ‘wicked’ policy problems and developing the ethical foundations for the use of data science and artificial intelligence in policy-making.

The Institute is named in honour of Alan Turing, whose pioneering work in theoretical and applied mathematics, engineering and computing is considered to have laid the foundations for modern-day data science and artificial intelligence. The Institute’s goals are to undertake world-class research, apply its research to real-world problems, driving economic impact and societal good, lead the training of a new generation of scientists, and shape the public conversation around data and algorithms.

After launching in 2015 with government funding from EPSRC and five founding universities, the Institute has grown an extensive network of university partners from across the UK and launched a number of major partnerships with industry, public and third sector. Today it is home to more than 400 researchers and a talented business team.

Defence Science and Technology laboratory (Dstl) ensures that innovative science and technology contribute to the defence and security of the UK and it is one of the founding public sector organisations funding the Alan Turing Institute. Defence needs to be trusted by society to responsibly and ethically employ AI technologies. To ensure this trust, Defence policy, legislation and ethical frameworks are required and Dstl is developing a research evidence base to inform these activities.


The Visiting Fellow will work across the Defence research portfolio to assist in building a consensus on the definitions and parameters for the ethics of applied research in future AI technologies. They will lead the development of ethical guidelines for responsible innovation practices to help ensure the smooth transition of these technologies from research into Defence’s acquisition processes. In addition, they will help Defence both to anticipate future national and international moral and ethical values in this area and to articulate value priorities in this area of the greater AI innovation ecosystem. The fellow will also support the development of Dstl’s capability in digital ethics and will have a well-established academic network to draw upon.

Duties And Responsibilities

The Visiting Fellow will work closely with the fellows based at Turing Institute as well as those at Dstl to:

  • Develop a collaborative research and capability development strategy for applied digital ethics research.
  • Support the development of MOD policy and frameworks for the ethical application of AI in Defence.
  • Define the requirements for MOD funded research and lead the delivery of these research activities.
  • Attend and present research findings and papers at academic and professional conferences, and contribute to the external visibility of Dstl.
  • Establish a community of interest by developing partnerships, for example to help identify sources of funding, identify opportunities for research impact, or build relationships for future activities.


The successful candidate will have:


  • Possession of a PhD or an equivalent qualification in Applied / Practical Ethics or a related discipline.
  • The successful candidate will need to be able to interact with scientists and engineers from a broad range of disciplines in multi- and inter-disciplinary teams.
  • The ability to develop and implement strategic research and capability development plans.
  • The ability to initiate, plan, organise, implement and deliver programmes of work to tight deadlines.
  • The ability to influence others through effective communication (oral and written) skills, presentation and training skills.
  • Effective strategic thinking, leadership and mentoring skills.


  • Strong track record of research publication in the area of applied ethics appropriate to career stage.
  • Established, vibrant research and practitioner networks at the national and international level.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the Defence and Security domain.
  • Literacy in data science, particularly in the science of machine learning and interpretable AI.
  • Understanding of artificial intelligence and digital ethics.

Other information

Term and Conditions

This full-time post is offered on a fixed-term contract for a period of 36 months starting 01/12/2019 or as soon after that as possible. Salary £35,000 - £45,000. ( dependent on skills and experience) plus excellent benefits. https://www.turing.ac.uk/work-turing/why-work-turing/employee-benefits

Application procedure

If you are interested in this opportunity, please click the apply button below and submit your CV, with contact details for your referees and a covering letter. If you have questions or would like to discuss the role further with a member of the Institute’s HR Team, please contact them on 0203 862 3394 or email [email protected] who would like to submit their application in a different format please email [email protected].

Closing date for applications: 25th September 2019

The Alan Turing Institute is committed to creating an environment where diversity is valued and everyone is treated fairly. In accordance with the Equality Act, we welcome applications from anyone who meets the specific criteria of the post regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy, religion or belief or sexual orientation. Reasonable adjustments are available to support candidates through the application and interview process. Happy to Talk Flexible Working

Please note all offers of employment are subject to continuous eligibility to work in the UK and satisfactory pre-employment security screening which includes a DBS Check.