Socio-Technical Futures Lab – Artificial Intelligence


Emerging technologies such as machine vision, AR/VR, AI and recommendation systems raise profound questions about the relationship between technology and society, and how these technologies are becoming differentially integrated into everyday life in Australia and elsewhere. Yet the invention, design, implementation, and use of technology proceeds without such knowledge.

The Socio-Tech Futures Lab (STuF Lab) has been established in the Department of Media and Communication to examine the ways in which social, cultural, and political dynamics influence the integration of technologies into everyday life, and the implications of such forces in shaping and designing our futures. See - STuF Lab 

Led by Professor Heather Horst, Professor Gerard Goggin and Dr Marcus Carter, the STuF Lab is seeking PhD students interested in bringing humanities and social science research to the table with other disciplines, community, industry and policy actors in the study of emerging digital technologies. 

The exemplary PhD candidate is not expected to have pre-existing practical or high-level technical literacy about these emerging technologies. They will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team of senior researchers, incorporating the knowledge, industry experience and technical expertise available at The University of Sydney in their chosen research area. 

We are currently recruiting PhD students interested in conducting projects on AI, Machine Vision, AR/VR, and on Recommendation Systems.


Professor Gerard Goggin, Dr Marcus Carter

Research Location

Department of Media and Communications, School of Letters, Art and Media (SLAM)

Program Type



The simulation of human intelligence by machines, has a long history with utopian visions for independent, autonomous and superintelligent computer-systems. In practice, however, the majority of current examples of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ are in fact just advanced machine-learning systems. These are typically algorithms built on sample data which can perpetuate and mirror the same systemic biases, prejudices and inequalities in the human-centred systems they replace (e.g. see 'Amazon Scraps Secret AI Recruiting Tool that Shows Bias Against Women' Dastin, J. (2018)). Despite this AI systems and agents are increasingly being taken up in workplaces, cities and homes with little knowledge about how they alter the social context in which they enter ('The rising tide of artificial intelligence and business automation: Developing an ethical framework' Wright, S.A. & Schultz, A.E. (2018)). This project will utilize social science research methods to study and work closely with AI researchers and developers to contribute to our understanding of the process by which AI systems are designed and deployed, and the implications for policy and practice.  

The specific nature of the project will be developed in consultation with the prospective PhD student and identified supervisor(s). On these topics, you will be working alongside other researchers and post-doctoral researchers interested in these fields of enquiries and advancing knowledge in your own right. Prospective candidates are not required to have advanced technical literacy in their chosen topic area, although – depending upon the project - an openness to learning these is always welcome. 

Additional Information

  • This is not a funded position, although opportunities for research assistance work and travel funding may be available through association with the STuF Lab. The applicant is responsible for obtaining a stipend.  
  • Initial Inquiries should be sent by email to Professor Heather Horst and should be include a copy of the applicant’s CV and a 500 – 1,000 word project proposal on one of the suggested topics. 
  • Depending on the research project proposal, we will connect applicants to potential supervisors from the Department of Media and Communications and across the University of Sydney.

Want to find out more?

Contact us to find out what’s involved in applying for a PhD. Domestic students and International students

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AI, artificial intelligence, social science research, emerging digital technologies, technology and society, Socio-Tech Futures Lab, STuF Lab, Department of Media and Communication, future

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2622

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