I started a new job at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) today and am extremely excited about it! The new job means that my visa can be renewed, which means that I do not have to carry the stress and anxiety of wondering “what next”. Which is good, as it means I can keep all my stress and anxiety focused on worries about COVID19.
I am keenly aware that my good news comes at a time when others are experiencing extreme financial hardship. That makes it difficult to be too cheerful about my good fortunes, but I am also pleased that this new job means that I can take care of all of the finances at my home for a while, as my housemate (a taxi driver) is one of those people whose job has gone to the wayside due to the social distancing and self-isolation practices. I am overjoyed that this new job will allow me to help him!
But, let’s talk more about the job!!
The new job is a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Aberdeen where I am working in the School of Natural and Computing Science as part of an interdisciplinary, EPSRC-funded project called RAInS (Realising Accountable Intelligent Systems). My primary responsibilities for the next two years will be to investigate issues of trust and accountability in intelligent systems (AI) using qualitative research methods to answer questions surrounding the accountability of systems related to specific use cases.
For the non-AI folks, you can think of this (very, very simply) as looking at who/what is “responsible” when a self-driving car goes rouge or when AI-based hiring decisions are racist/sexiest.
The research was originally planned as a series of hands-on co-design workshops, but given the current state of the world (COVID19), we might need to re-think how best to proceed. I have been thinking about potential (digital) methods over the last couple of weeks and I am sure that we will have a few conversations about how to proceed in the next couple of weeks.
For now, I am just getting myself up to speed. I have several documents and literature to review to provide me a good overview of the project from background literature and proposals to research summaries and workshop artefacts from other research partners. I am hoping that by the time I get through those files we will have a better idea of how to proceed.
It is a bit of a strange start, given that we are on lockdown orders as part of the UK’s COVID19 response. This means that my work will be done remotely for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, I live in a fair-sized cottage and I have a separate office that overlooks the garden where I will be able to work during this time. I just hope that it will not be long until I can move into my office on campus and to start meeting my new colleagues face-to-face. In the meantime, thank goodness for technology!
Normally, such news would also include starting to make solid plans for a holiday to The Homeland. But that will have to wait until we know when leisure travel will be allowed (and safe) again. But I’ll be home as soon as I can… and if any of my Homeland Readers are around, we can have a drink or two and celebrate life!
Note: Keen readers may have connected this story to my 20th February post titled “Aberdeen: Looking up!“. That was the day I travelled up for my interview. I received a job offer right after my holiday to Cambridge.