Applications are invited for a 4-year ESRC Targeted PhD studentship in the areas of memory, imagination, and creativity starting in October 2019 at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. The successful candidate will conduct research under the supervision of Dr Lucy Cheke at the Cognition and Motivated Behaviour Lab within the Department of Psychology (http://www.camblab.psychol.cam.ac.uk/) and Dr Marta Halina in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science (https://www.people.hps.cam.ac.uk/index/teaching-officers/halina) and Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (http://lcfi.ac.uk/).
The project develops a psychological account of creative intelligence aimed at informing contemporary work in AI research. The focus of the project will be on the development of “creative imagination” and how it leads to domain-general problem solving abilities, such as those associated with insight and general intelligence. In addition to being informed by contemporary work in psychology and AI, the project will have a significant philosophical dimension. The student will draw on these tools to ground their analysis of creative imagination and critically engage with methods for testing it in biological and artificial systems.
During the project, the student will experimentally investigate the role of memory and imaginative play in concept formation and problem solving in children. Imaginative play has been considered to be the foundation upon which a range of “higher” cognition functions are built. We suggest that through an integration of memory, imagination and current experiences, children are able to form concepts and hypotheses about how the world is structured, which can be “tested” through imaginative play. This process of “offline” manipulation and transformation of representations may be a key cognitive mechanism for creative problem solving that is missing in current AI agents.
These investigations will be informed by the philosophical and psychological literature on creativity, the psychological concepts surrounding mental scene and episode construction (“episodic cognition”), as well as the practical and conceptual problems encountered by AI researchers and developers attempting to promote creativity and imagination in their agents. Previous work in psychology and philosophy on creativity has focused on adult humans. This study will help fill a gap in this literature by examining creative imagination from a comparative and developmental perspective. Through interaction with experts in episodic cognition, child development, the philosophy of creativity and AI, the student will be in a unique position to develop and test hypotheses surrounding creative imagination and insightful problem solving, which could lead to significant new developments in the fields of psychology, philosophy, and AI.
Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years in the first instance.
Eligibility and Funding:
Candidates should have a first or upper second class degree in psychology, neuroscience or in another related subject (e.g., engineering, computer science, Mathematics, philosophy) and meet the University of Cambridge entrance requirements – see: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/entry-requirements
All applicants must meet the ESRC funding eligibility requirements outlined at: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/skills-and-careers/studentships/prospective-students/am-i-eligible-for-an-esrc-studentship/
UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements will be eligible for a full studentship, which includes University and College fees as well as an annual stipend at UK Research Council rates (TBC). Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award.
Candidates from Overseas are not eligible for this studentship and should not apply.
Informal enquiries about the project may be made to Dr Lucy Cheke (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr Marta Halina (email@example.com).
To apply please:
Complete the University GRADSAF application form by 5 December 2018. The course code is BLPC22 (PhD in Psychology).
With your GRADSAF application you will be required to submit (i) a draft research proposal outlining your suitability, why you are interested in pursuing a PhD in this area, your background and research interests. (ii) your CV stating your citizenship and years of residence in the UK (iii) copies of your academic transcripts (iv) details of two academic referees.
Please then inform the graduate office (firstname.lastname@example.org) when you have made an application. Please add ‘ESRC Interdisciplinary Studentship: From Creative Imagination to General Artificial Intelligence’ to the subject line of your e-mail.