Type dienstverband:
Internship and graduation project
Uren per week:
Fulltime – 40

Internship | Research and develop metrics for modeling legal texts

About this position

The purpose of policy and public services is to find a fair trade-off between parties with conflicting interests and values: paying taxes or receiving benefits, expanding the number of cows or protecting vulnerable ecosystems. However – as the Dutch benefits scandal shows – this is a difficult task. Can we improve how policy and laws are developed and implemented? TNO works on real life case studies to develop methods and tools that support this, in collaboration with governmental organisations, academia and industry. We have developed a formal language for modeling legal texts, and tools to create, visualize, analyze, and reason with those models. This work supports legislative drafting, specifying norms for computer systems and procedures for custom approaches (in cases where strict application of the law leads to injustice (‘menselijke maat’), explaining regulations and decisions to citizens, and challenging those decisions.

What will be your role?

Models of legal texts are useful for reasoning and resolving disputes about laws (e.g. on which grounds someone is refused a residence permit) but to apply them in practice, they need to be verified and validated. How can we do this? You will fill this knowledge gap with your internship research on metrics (for describing) and criteria (for evaluating). Metrics allow stakeholders to validate by visualizing and inspecting the model–while criteria allow the model developers to choose better implementations, to automate the work of translating legal texts into a model, and to better test these models (verification). You will perform a multidisciplinary applied research project, viewing the model from multiple perspectives besides your own discipline, such as natural language processing, system dynamics, graph theory, or the Legal Engineering theory.

This assignment aims to answer the question ‘What are good metrics and criteria for assessing models of normative texts?’ by iteratively performing a literature survey, implementation and testing with users. More specifically:

  • Gathering metrics and criteria for interpretations of normative sources (e.g. laws, policies, contracts);
  • Implementing these metrics and criteria in our software, demonstrating them with models which are provided to you;
  • Evaluating these metrics and criteria for effectiveness and usefulness in actual case studies (e.g. Dutch government budget, AI algorithm register) with actual users.

You will be in close contact with the project team and are supported by a daily supervisor, where you are encouraged to communicate your research within TNO and relevant audiences.

What we expect from you

You are a student who’s curious to cross disciplinary borders, explore theoretical concepts, and translate them to practical solutions and test them in the public sector. You are keen to use your knowledge to innovate in public services and help people with your research.

What you bring:

  • You are a Master’s student in one of the following fields or a related one: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, (Applied) Mathematics, (Applied) Linguistics, (Applied) Philosophy, Engineering & Policy Analysis; Law Engineering and Policy, or a similar field.
  • You have experience or affinity with modeling and/or simulation
  • You have basic programming skills (or are open to acquiring them)
  • You are willing to meet with your colleagues at our department in Soesterberg at least every two weeks
  • Preferably, you can read Dutch text

What you'll get in return

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. TNO goes a step further. It’s not just looking that interests us; you and your knowledge are essential to our innovation. That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

TNO as an employer

At TNO, we innovate for a healthier, safer and more sustainable life. And for a strong economy. Since 1932, we have been making knowledge and technology available for the common good. We find each other in wonder and ingenuity. We are driven to push boundaries. There is all the space and support for your talent and ambition. You work with people who will challenge you: who inspire you and want to learn from you. Our state-of-the-art facilities are there to realize your vision. What you do at TNO matters: impact makes the difference. Because with every innovation you contribute to tomorrow’s world. Read more about TNO as an employer.

At TNO we encourage an inclusive work environment, where you can be yourself. Whatever your story and whatever unique qualities you bring to the table. It is by combining our unique strengths and perspectives that we are able to develop innovations that make a real difference in society. Want to know more? Read what steps we are taking in the area of diversity and inclusion.

The selection process

After the first CV selection, the application process will be conducted by the concerning department. TNO will provide a suitable internship agreement. If you have any questions about this vacancy, you can contact the contact person mentioned below.

Due to Covid-19 and the consequent uncertainties and restrictions, students who are not residing in the Netherlands may currently not be able to start an internship or graduation project at TNO.

Has this job opening sparked your interest?

Then we’d like to hear from you! Please contact us for more information about the job or the selection process. To apply, please upload your CV and covering letter using the ‘apply now’ button.

A portrait of the TNO internship