The call for the application is now closed.
We are now inviting anyone interested in automated decision-making in Europe to apply for the third round of the fellowship, which will run from January to June 2024. The deadline to apply is Sunday, 12 November 23:59 CET (find below the application form). We will be holding two Q&A session on Zoom to solve doubts and further questions on October 17th at 11:00 CET and on October 20th at 19:00 CET. Please find the link to access each meeting attached to the date of choice.
Learning from our past experiences with the program, this round will focus on cooperation and diversity. Candidates from different backgrounds (computer science, law, public policy, statistics, journalism, etc.) are welcome to apply and cooperate with their skills and specialization to the research.
We will join forces in a large and collective research effort: researching how automated decision-making systems used by financial institutions in the European Union can lead to discrimination, in the broadest sense of the word. How are insurances premiums decided? What is in a credit score? How is money laundering detected? Who decides whether a money transfer is suspicious or not? We want to know how Europeans are impacted by automated discrimination in this area.
The selected candidates are expected to use a variety of approaches to better understand how the mechanisms of discrimination work, which population groups are most impacted and whether current legislation and enforcement are sufficient. These approaches need not focus solely on journalistic methods, but can include other type of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.
What can you expect from the fellowship
The fellowship will run for 6 months, starting in January 2024.
We will select five applicants who will receive 7,200€ (gross) for the completion of the project.
For the whole process, as a fellow you will work closely with the team at AlgorithmWatch and the rest of the fellows, who will work remotely from their respective countries.
Who can apply
Any person above 18 is welcome to apply. We very strongly encourage persons from minoritized or marginalized groups and communities to apply.
Applicants do not need to have a background in computer science. Just like you do not need a degree in climate science to report on the climate crisis, the effects of automated systems can be researched by non-technical people.
Applicants do not have to be professional journalists. We welcome people who are not professional journalists to apply, especially but not limited to PhD students, civic-minded technologists, activists, librarians and community organizers.
There are, however, some things that we require from the applicants:
- Residence in a country of the European Union, or in an EFTA country, or in a candidate country, or in a former country of the EU.
- Written English at a B2 level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. (Some services offer free online tests to assess your level).
- A very strong interest in the topic of automated decision-making.
- The ability to work autonomously.
How to apply
Please take into account the following guidelines before completing your proposal:
APPROACH TO THE RESEARCH
This is the most important part of the application.
The main objective of the fellowship is to conduct a collaborative and multidisciplinary research into automated discrimination by financial institutions in the EU. This means that fellows will have to actively contribute to the investigation with their skills and be able to work in a team. Each specialty will look into different facets of the issue, which means that while one candidate will focus on freedom of information and access (FOIA) requests and interviews as a way of obtaining information, others might rely on the use of OSINT techniques, data-driven software or might even want to build their own analysis tool or try to apply reverse engineering techniques.
This is the reason why the fellowship is aimed at, but not exclusively for, people with a journalistic background, as long as they are interested in sharing some of these practices or would be ready to work along with the journalism team at AlgorithmWatch.
What we are planning to report on:
- Algorithms ― based or not on AI ― used by financial institutions and other agents (banks, insurance companies, budget-tracking apps, loans and microcredit entities, ministerial departments and public administrations, etc.)
- The impact on specific groups of these automated systems, such as inhabitants of selected neighborhoods having credits denied or exiled people who cannot access public subsidies.
- Unpublished data used to implement, support and run the automated systems used by these institutions, i.e. databases, bibliography used in the design of the system, internal or independent audits, false positive and negative rates, etc.
- Ideally, human-centered stories and interviews that include people affected by the use of these programs and their consequences.
- Current situation or updates on the regulation that affects such systems and their use upon the general population.
What we are not looking for:
- Technical description of a system without evidence of how it works for real (e.g. “Bank X to use AI to improve the performance of customers’ savings”).
- Theoretical research (e.g. “A bank could discriminate using variable X”).
Don’t worry about how your proposal fits in, we will work with the selected fellows to refine their ideas to obtain a coherent whole.
Are you offering an employment contract?
No. The allowance is paid on invoices. If fellows are unable to invoice, we will work with them to find a solution.
Who will own the copyright to the reporting I do?
You will remain sole owner of your work, but will have to publish it under a CC-BY license.
Will I work together will AlgorithmWatch?
Yes. AlgorithmWatch will coordinate the work of the fellows, and fellows will be invited to connect with other members of the organization.
Will I work together with other fellows?
Yes. We will have meetings at least once a month.
Will there be in-person meetings?
Yes. Fellows will meet together at least once, probably in Belgium in early June, pending confirmation.
Do you provide office space for fellows?
Can I participate in the fellowship for less than 6 months?
We expect fellows to complete the full 6 months of the program, but we can offer some flexibility.
Do I have to publish in English?
No. You can publish in your own language, but communication within the fellowship is in English.
Is there an age limit?
Anyone above 18 is welcome to apply.
Can I apply although I’m not a journalist?
Can I apply if I’m a student?
Can I apply if I do not have a work permit (e.g. asylum-seeker)?
Yes, but you should check that you are allowed to take part in such a program.
What countries are EU/EFTA members, former members or candidates?
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Türkiye, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
Can I apply if I live outside of these countries?
Can I apply if I’m a national of these countries but don’t live there at the moment?
Can I work on stories besides the main investigation during the fellowship?
We are open to working with the fellows on other stories for an additional remuneration. These would be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
Will AlgorithmWatch reimburse the travel expenses I incur?
There is space in the application form to explain your extra expenditures.
AlgorithmWatch is an advocacy organization. Will I have to do advocacy?
No. Reporting and advocacy are separated activities.
The fellowship is sponsored by: