PAI Fellowship Program Call For Applications

Program Description

The Partnership on AI (PAI) was jointly created by leading technology companies, civil society organizations, and academic institutions to maximize the benefits and confront the challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. As a global non-profit organization convening over 80 diverse member organizations, the Partnership seeks to study and formulate best practices on AI, advance the public’s understanding of AI, and serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.

To fulfill this objective, we recently launched PAI Labs, a Partnership-led AI technology, policy, and ethics research initiative designed to deliver on ambitious projects designed with collaborators in our community and the broader, multidisciplinary AI research field.

As a part of PAI Labs, we are launching the PAI Labs Research Fellowship program. We are calling upon researchers at our member organizations and in the wider AI community to join us for residential fellowships based at the Partnership on AI’s San Francisco offices. Research Fellows will conduct groundbreaking multi-disciplinary research for durations ranging from 6 months to 2 years, depending on project timelines and other factors. Applications for the Fellowship Program will be open on a rolling basis beginning February 2019.

Through PAI Labs, Research Fellows will be presented with unique industry opportunities to:
  • Bring an idea to execution, from your home organization or elsewhere, that would be made more impactful by leveraging the Partnership’s voice and perspective, rather than just one company, lab, or organization’s.
  • Design a project (individual or small-group) that calls upon, assists, or improves the work of the AI research community in a wider sense (for instance, creating ethical or safety benchmarks; proposing better techniques or practices for high-stakes applications; piloting ideas that may evolve into PAI best practices or standards).
  • Drive a project or idea borne of the conversations and convenings hosted by PAI to execution.
Candidates for PAI Research Fellowships should have the following:
  • Have a demonstrated track record of research and/or technology policy work in a field that is relevant to AI and/or machine learning (technical or non-technical), or to understanding and shaping its impact, opportunities, and consequences;
  • Interest in helping PAI build a rich intellectual culture at PAI Labs with diverse and creative perspectives on the questions that surround the relationship between artificial intelligence technologies and humanity; and
  • Have ideas for one or more project proposals that you, PAI’s staff, and our growing research community are excited to undertake, host, and collaborate on.
The following skills and attributes are also desirable or highly desirable for PAI Research Fellows:
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate work compellingly in spoken and written form;
  • Demonstrated track record of or interest in cross-disciplinary engagement;
  • Ability to work from the Partnership’s offices in San Francisco for most or (ideally) all of the Fellowship;
  • Ability to facilitate strong collaborations within the Partnership and the broader AI community, for instance: by being an employee or affiliate of a Partner organization; by having a strong track record of collaboration within the AI research community and/or having collaborators demonstrate interest in contributing to proposed Fellowship projects; or by having a track record of organizing events, gatherings, online or offline conversations, or other gatherings of research and practice.
Research Fellowships will be allocated in three bands of seniority:
  • Postgraduate Research Fellowships are suitable for candidates who are nearing the end of a PhD or equivalent research degree;
  • Research Fellowships are suitable for early to mid-career candidates, who have a PhD and a demonstrated track record of research and/or technology policy work; or who have more than a PhD equivalent level research, technical or policy experience and output in non-academic settings;
  • Senior Research Fellowships are suitable for well-established, senior researchers who have led successful labs or research teams or have an extensive track record of research and/or policy work.
Our Commitment to Equal Employment Opportunity

The Partnership on AI is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and we are committed to creating an inclusive environment in all aspects of employment, including recruiting, hiring, promoting, training, education assistance, social and recreational programs, compensation, benefits, transfers, discipline, and all privileges and conditions of employment. Employment decisions at PAI are based on business needs, job requirements and individual qualifications.

PAI provides employees with a work environment free of unlawful discrimination and harassment based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion and religious creed, political affiliation, citizenship, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, breastfeeding and related medical conditions, marital status, registered domestic partner status, military or veteran status, legally protected medical condition (including cancer), physical or mental disability, genetic information or characteristics, AIDS/HIV status, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or any other protected classification under federal, state or local law.

PAI encourages applicants of all ages and backgrounds to apply. To ask any questions on the Fellowship Program, please email

Research Fellowship Project Proposals

We encourage Research Fellows to propose their own projects, in discussion with PAI’s research team and with potential collaborators across and beyond the Partnership.

In planning PAI Labs, we have worked with our community to establish a growing list of project ideas that we are planning to evaluate–and potentially execute. Fellowship candidates should feel free to take these ideas and build proposals on them, and/or to take ideas that they or their current employers believe would be excellent uses of the research and governance opportunities created by the existence of the Partnership and PAI Labs.

Examples of projects we would think are worth considering:
  • Building datasets, benchmarks, metrics and test environments for key AI questions related to PAI’s six thematic pillars (for an example of such projects, see the Unrestricted Adversarial Examples Challenge here).
  • A comparative international study on current uses of machine learning systems in high-stakes contexts to rank and score people in varied contexts, such as in the criminal justice and law enforcement domains, in hiring or screening decisions, determinations of creditworthiness, and more. What successes and failure modes are such technologies exhibiting?
  • Work with one or several sponsoring tech platforms to produce an API that makes various real-time mitigations for media misinformation available to startups and smaller platform companies.
  • Produce a detailed comparison, feasibility, and preconditions-for-soundness study for the major proposed mitigations in case of AI-driven labor market disruptions (universal basic incomes, large-scale retraining programs, windfall clauses, the creation of new sovereign wealth funds, “robot” and other automation taxes, or guaranteed work programs).
  • Produce a statistical simulation of the feasibility and expected consequences of using secondary datasets such a the U.S. National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to correct for observation and selection bias in criminal justice recidivism prediction training datasets, and model the expected error margins and confidence intervals of models trained on those datasets.
  • Produce significant analysis of the machine learning research literature and/or visualizations of AI progress to extend existing work in the field (supporting such work as the AI Index or EFF’s AI Progress Measurement project).
  • Design and conduct a research project that surfaces and explores positive interventions to support the involvement of traditionally marginalized and underrepresented communities in the development and deployment of responsible AI technologies. Such a project might explore themes and methodologies including (but not limited to) power studies, representation, inclusion, and human-centered design.
  • Identify a major social or societal problem that has not yet received much attention from the AI and machine learning community, but where there are compelling arguments for the existence of important and tractable problems. Undertake a project to plan an ambitious project in that space and gather and inspire ML researchers across Partner organizations to complete it.
  • Analyze or model the strategic landscape for global cooperation and collaboration between nation states with respect to AI. Are current national strategies sound? What are the best roles for governments, militaries, corporations, and other types of actors? Such a project may leverage insights from game theory, social and political theory, public policy and international relations, science and technology studies, and other fields and methodologies.

Fellowship Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Research Fellows compensated?

Yes, PAI has budgeted to support a number of Research Fellows in 2019. We will be able to provide financial support for Research Fellows from nonprofit civil society, advocacy, and academic research institutions. We have a limited budget for the Fellowship Program and therefore strongly encourage PAI’s for-profit corporate Partners to provide ongoing salaries to employees who are applying for PAI Research Fellowship; we will nonetheless consider applicants from for-profit settings who require financial support from PAI.


For candidates who need financial support, how much financial support is available?

PAI aims to provide competitive stipends that are sufficient to live comfortably in the San Francisco Bay Area and commensurate with candidates’ skills and experience. We are able to provide compensation starting at $6,600/month for Postgraduate and Junior Research Fellows, and compensation starting at $10,000/month for established mid-to-late career Research Fellows and Senior Research Fellows.


When will Fellows be selected? Will there be cohorts of Fellows?

We aim to accept expressions of interest and offer Fellowships on a rolling basis. In order to offer the most flexible terms to Fellows, we will negotiate durations from 6 months to 2 years with start dates and terms that suit candidates’ current projects and employers’ needs. We will be evaluating and accepting fellows on a rolling basis.

Will Fellows be Required to hold authorizations to work in the United States?

PAI has a global mission, and we intend to recruit fellows from as geographically diverse a set of home institutions as possible. PAI is currently unable to offer sponsorship for U.S. work permit and visa purposes. However, on a limited case by case basis, we may work with certain candidates to identify other visa and sponsorship arrangements allowed by U.S. law. All applicants should bear this in mind when considering applying.