Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Use of AI in recruitment has become dystopian

Use of AI in recruitment has of course become common. And whether or not that's a good thing, autonomous tech's role in hiring and firing employees is increasing.


Journalist Russell Cavanagh writes about AI and recruitment on the Economic Survivor blog.

I wrote here a couple of days ago about how artificial intelligence might help deal with age discrimination when sifting job applicants' CVs. Deploying algorithms to filter would-be candidates without interference from a recruiter's personal bias made sense.

However, AI now helps not only with the hiring but also the firing of company employees. See the two dystopian stories linked below.

The first piece, written by Drew Harwell at the Washington Post, describes AI being used right now to make discriminatory, biased decisions in a whole variety of ways:

Washington Post / Anchorage Daily News
Drew Harwell
22 October 2019

Face-scanning algorithm increasingly decides whether you deserve the job


An artificial-intelligence hiring system has become a powerful gatekeeper for some of America's most prominent employers, reshaping how companies assess their workforce - and how prospective employees prove their worth.

Designed by the recruiting-technology firm HireVue, the system uses candidates' computer or cellphone cameras to analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice before ranking them against other applicants based on an automatically generated "employability" score.

HireVue's "AI-driven assessments" have become so pervasive in some industries, including hospitality and finance, that universities make special efforts to train students on how to look and speak for best results. More than 100 employers now use the system, including Hilton, Unilever and Goldman Sachs, and more than a million job-seekers have been analyzed.

Read more ...

And before your head stops spinning from that potential script for a Black Mirror episode, witness this story from six months ago about AI software firing human workers at Amazon:

theverge.com
Colin Lecher
25 April 2019


How Amazon automatically tracks and fires warehouse workers for ‘productivity


In a signed letter last year, an attorney representing Amazon said the company fired “hundreds” of employees at a single facility between August of 2017 and September 2018 for failing to meet productivity quotas. A spokesperson for the company said that, over that time, roughly 300 full-time associates were terminated for inefficiency.

[...]

“One of the things that we hear consistently from workers is that they are treated like robots in effect because they’re monitored and supervised by these automated systems,” Mitchell says. “They’re monitored and supervised by robots.”

The system goes so far as to track “time off task,” which the company abbreviates as TOT. If workers break from scanning packages for too long, the system automatically generates warnings and, eventually, the employee can be fired. Some facility workers have said they avoid bathroom breaks to keep their time in line with expectations.

Read more ...

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