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Postdoc researcher Humane USE of Human Attention

Postdoc researcher Humane USE of Human Attention

(Postdoctoraal) onderzoeker
Faculteit Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences


Project on Humane Use of Human Attention

AI-based technologies (including “simple” apps) increasingly battle for human attention (Davenport & Beck, 2001) as they become the motor for optimizing marketing targets and customer behavior. These technologies manipulate (Fogg & Hreha, 2010; Fogg & Iizawa, 2008) user attention as the entry point for influencing human thinking, attitude formation and behavior. Counter-movements have analyzed the problematic and disruptive nature of this attention economy: loss of autonomy and increased addiction (Ertemel & Aydin, 2018), adverse effects on how our brain works (Carr, 2011) and even ‘downgrading humanity’ (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.). However, these counter-movements struggle to formulate an alternative answer of ‘humane technology’. Very interestingly, some philosophies mention the practice of striving for attention as a solution to come to an anticipated human condition. Canonical Buddhist sources focus on concepts such as awareness and equanimity (e.g., Analayo, 2004; Goenka, 1999) and Western philosophy mentions concepts such as ataraxia (Epicurus) or authenticity (Sartre, 1983), to mention only a few.

The project aims to use this literature to critically reinterpret the current concepts of ‘attention’, ‘autonomy’ (Brown et al., 2015) and ‘economy’ (Brown, 2017) and will investigate whether these reinterpretations can support a normative foundation for humane technology. The project (1 year, 50%) is exploratory in nature. The main tasks are to submit 1 article to a relevant journal and to submit an application for follow-up funding. Connections can be made with ongoing projects on customer behavior (i.e. or the ethics of socially disruptive technologies (


  • PhD in Ethics, Philosophy, or a comparable domain.
  • Ability to conduct high quality academic research, demonstrated for instance by a relevant PhD thesis and/or publication(s).
  • Experienced in attention practices (vipassana, zen, or other). The challenge in this project will be to combine this personal experience with theoretical frameworks supplied by ethics/philosophy.
  • Contribute to the development of a research line on “attention” by building a network and submitting a research proposal for the period following this project.
  • Excellent mastering of the English language, good communication and leadership skills. Note that there is no Dutch language requirement.
  • Be a team player and able to work in a dynamic, interdisciplinary context.


  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A 0,5 or 0,6 fte employment, with an end date of 31-07-2021.
  • You will have free access to high-quality training programs for research and valorization,  and didactical courses of the TEACH training program.
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits (including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes).
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.

Informatie en sollicitatie


Your application should contain the following documents:

  • a letter of application which explains your interest in the position, your qualifications for it and your first ideas on the content and method of the research project;
  • a curriculum vitae illustrating both your philosophical expertise and your experiences with attention practices; and
  • a writing sample.

If you are interested, we invite you to apply before August 14, 2020. Interviews will be held shortly thereafter (week of August 24). To apply please use the 'apply now' button. Please note that a maximum of 1 document can be uploaded, so you will have to combine the documents asked above. Please do not send us applications by e-mail.

Further information

For further information on the project and the position, please contact Gunter Bombaerts (

More information about the Philosophy and Ethics Department at TU/e can be found at

Information about the terms of employment can be obtained from Kim van Puijenbroek, HR advisor ( ).  Further information about Eindhoven University of Technology can be found at