Doctoral Researcher 03 (CONVERGENCE of HUMANS and MACHINES): The Future of Human Augmentation in Games

Tampere University and Tampere University of Applied Sciences create a unique environment for multidisciplinary, inspirational and high-impact research and education. Our universities community has its competitive edges in technology, health and society.

CONVERGENCE of HUMANS and MACHINES project at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences is looking for a Doctoral Researcher to work on the topic of The Future of Human Augmentation in Games.

Convergence is the trailblazing doctoral field, aiming at bringing together expertise of natural sciences & engineering (ENG) and social sciences & humanities (SSH) in multidisciplinary union. As many as 16 doctoral research projects are related to the following developments: affective computing, gamification, augmented reality, cybernetics, ubiquitous connectivity, dispersed computing, AI & machine learning, and robotics & machine perception. Each student will be supervised by two leading senior faculty members (and, sometimes, a PostDoc or company/organization representative). The main supervisor and the co-supervisor are from different research fields: ENG and SSH. Check the end of the position description for the supervisory team details.

Join Convergence… And make a change!

* Convergence has 16 funded doctoral positions. The applicant may only apply for up to 3 positions within Convergence. If you are unsure if this (#03) is the correct one – please, check the website with the list of Convergence positions. Make your selection first and only apply the ones that are suitable for your background.

Project background

Convergence is a new research field that brings together academics from Social Sciences & Humanities and Technology & Engineering to train the next generation of Doctoral Expertise and address future challenges and opportunities of multidisciplinary Convergence of Humans and Machines. Convergence is funded by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.

Convergence is based on the premise that, on the one hand, people are increasingly integrated with technology and our culture and practices are increasingly dictated by information technology. On the other hand, machines are becoming more alive, creative, and dynamic. In other words, human and machine are converging. The project has emerged from the need to redefine and renegotiate the roles of human and machine in society and from the need of cross-disciplinary collaboration understand this rising area. 

Job description

We are looking for a Doctoral Researcher in the areas of human augmentation, games, new interfaces, future studies, specifically to pursue the research towards “The Future of Human Augmentation in Games” research field.

Successful candidates will pursue a doctoral degree at Tampere University. Full-time doctoral studies are expected to be completed in four years.

An applicant may only apply for maximum 3 Convergence positions from this list. This position number is 03.

Short description: 

Games like those in the popular Deus Ex series and cyberpunk fiction more generally are filled with ambiguity towards human augmentation: the new capabilities opened up by human-technology hybrids are depicted similarly as inspiring, tempting and terrible. Cybernetic additions such as artificial body parts or sensory systems promise both super-human capabilities but also risks for losing control, sense of self – or even loss of humanity.

In media research, Marshall McLuhan famously argued that with each new technological augmentation (or “extension”), humans also undergo a manner of “auto-amputation” – parts of human agency and self are replaced by technology that has effectively taken a prosthetic function. A classic example is how using an electric calculator easily leads people losing ability to do mental arithmetic.

The aim of this PhD project is to map, analyse and critique the key technological imaginaries of human augmentation with the help of close readings of science fiction themed games. The particular benefit of using games is their empirical operability: rather than just thought experiments, the futuristic augmentations can actually be tested and empirically interacted with, in games. 

The overall research aim is to examine how the combination of critical, humanities-based reading of games with the empirical experimentation with simulated, cybernetic experiences of operating as an augmented human in a futuristic context can be used to advance under­standing both about the potentials as well as problems related to the human augmentation.

Furthermore, augmented reality games based on headsets, such as Microsoft Hololens 2 or Magic Leap 2, provide an excellent platform for studying the user experience of augmentations from the first-person perspective. This kind of systems can be used in explorative research in which augmentation concepts from science fiction and games will be implemented as interactive experiments. The participants will then have a chance to reflect on their experiences, expec­tations and requirements for such technologies. It is known that many advanced features of the aug­mentations would be challenging to implement with the current level of technology. Such features may be simulated by a hid­den human assistant who is replacing a software functionality in a Wizard of Oz testing method.

This research is based on understanding of games and genres such as cyberpunk science fic­tion as particular, historically evolved forms of art, culture, and entertainment, but also on interdisciplinary critiques that focus on the plausibility and human consequences of futuris­tic technologies – an approach that has been recently discussed in the field of Futures Studies.

Tentative Research problems/questions: 

  • What are the key positive and empowering potentials of future cybernetic augmentations of humans, as experienced in futuristic games?
  • How augmentations should be implemented with augmented reality and gaming technologies to allow maximising positive user experiences and the expected benefits of using them?
  • What are the key risks and problems related to this development, both in practical terms of implemented technologies, as well as more fundamentally in how technology constraints some human capabilities while empowering others?


The applicant needs to have a Master’s degree in game studies, literary and art studies, philosophy, media studies, human-computer interaction, or a related field and have demonstrated (during your studies towards the Master’s degree or otherwise) the competence and motivation to pursue postgraduate studies. Please be prepared to provide proof of your merits when requested.

Successful candidates must be pursuing or will be accepted to study towards a doctoral degree in the Doctoral Programme of Humans and Technologies (DPHAT). Please visit the admissions webpage for more information on eligibility requirements. Please, pay special attention to the language requirements.

The research topic will also benefit from expertise in player studies, user research, experience design, evaluation methodologies and/or knowledge of software development environments such as Unity. Also, special expertise and interest in science fiction, games, and related philosophical topics is considered as highly valuable in this project.

Candidates are selected based on the level of promise that they show, and this will be evaluated on the basis of their study and research interest description, their previous success in studies, and merits in writing the doctoral thesis and / or scientific publishing, as well as their background match to the research topic.

Tampere University is a unique, multidisciplinary and boldly forward-looking, evolving community. Our values are openness, diversity, responsibility, courage, critical thinking, erudition building, and learner-centeredness. We hope that you can embrace these values and promote them in your work.

We offer

An applicant  may only apply for maximum 3 Convergence positions from this list. This position number is 03.

The position will be filled for a fixed-term period of maximum four (4) years. The starting date is 1 September 2023 or as mutually agreed. A trial period of six (6) months applies to all our new employees.

The salary will be based on both the job requirements and the employee’s personal performance in accordance with the salary system of Finnish universities. According to the criteria applied to teaching and research staff, the position of a Doctoral Researcher is placed on level 2—4 of the job requirements scale. A typical baseline starting salary for Doctoral Researchers is approximately 2,500 EUR/month.

We are inviting you to be a part of a vibrant, active and truly international research community. We value interdisciplinarity, as it allows you to expand your research network and exposes you to new perspectives and ideas to solve complex research problems and pursue novel research findings. We are strongly committed to the highest level of scientific research and the provision of high-quality doctoral education. 

As a member of staff at Tampere University, you will enjoy a range of competitive benefits, such as occupational health care services, flexible work schedule, versatile research infrastructure, modern teaching facilities and a safe and inviting campus area as well as a personal fund to spend on sports and cultural activities in your free time. Please read more about working at Tampere University. You can also find more information about us and working and living Tampere by watching our video: Tampere Higher Education Community – our academic playground.  

Finland is among the most stable, free and safe countries in the world, based on prominent ratings by various agencies. Tampere is the largest inland city of Finland, and the city is counted among the major academic hubs in the Nordic countries. Tampere region is the most rapidly growing urban area in Finland and home to a vibrant knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial community. The city is an industrial powerhouse that enjoys a rich cultural scene and a reputation as a centre of Finland’s information society. Tampere is also surrounded by vivid nature with forests and lakes, providing countless opportunities for easy-to-access outdoor adventures and refreshment throughout the year. 

Read more about Finland and Tampere: 

How to apply

To address these rising challenges, Convergence is looking for 16 funded doctoral researchers. Note, the applicant may only apply for 3 positions within Convergence.

Please submit your application through our online recruitment system. The closing date for applications is 15 February 2023 (23:59 EET /UTC +2). Please write your application and all the accompanying documentation in English and attach them in PDF format.

Please attach only the following documents (in PDF format) to your application: 

  • A letter of motivation and description of your research interests (max. 2 page(s)). Named “Surname_Motivation_Letter.pdf”
    • The selected applicant will have to apply and be admitted to the doctoral programme prior to the start of the work. The student needs to write a more detailed research plan at that stage.
  • Curriculum vitae according to the TENK template. Named “Surname_CV.pdf”
  • Pdf copy of your MSc and BSc degree certificates, including transcripts of all university records and their English translations (Finnish and Swedish certificates are also accepted).
    • If you do not have the certificates yet, please, include the letter from your university that provides the expected graduation date as well as your current transcript of records. Named “Surname_Degrees.pdf”
  • Certificate of language proficiency “Named “Surname_Lang.pdf”
    • The minimum English language test result requirements: Test name: minimum test result (*The previous CAE and CPE have been renamed as C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency): TOEFL iBT / TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: 92 overall, with no section below 20; IELTS (academic) / IELTS Indicator: 6.5 overall, with no section below 5.5; PTE (academic): 62 overall, with no section below 54; C1 Advanced*: C; C2 Proficiency*: C1; Finnish National Certificate of Language Proficiency (English): Proficiency level 5
    • Exemptions to the language requirements: It is possible to be exempted from submitting a language test score if you have completed a higher education degree in English in certain countriesIf you apply without a valid language test result, carefully examine the exemptions that your studies fulfil the requirements.
  • Either 2 Recommendation letters [preferably] OR the contact details of two referees [if the first option is not possible, and with explained reasoning], e.g., your M.Sc. supervisors / employers. Named “Surname_Recommendations.pdf”

For further information, please contact the supervisors:

Professor Frans Mäyrä 

Senior Research Fellow Ismo 

Professor Roope 

For general question about Convergence, contact: Coordinator, Dr. Aleksandr

For questions about the doctoral studies enrollment, check DPHAT doctoral programme contacts.