/In the Covid-19 jobs market, biased AI is in charge of all the hiring

In the Covid-19 jobs market, biased AI is in charge of all the hiring

Summary: As millions of people flood the jobs market, companies are turning to biased and racist AI to sift through the avalanche of CVs

Original author and publication date: Sophia Waterfield – October 6, 2020

Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We have created a biased and racist super intelligent entity. What could go wrong? Hooray for us!

Image ofr illustration purposes only. Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash
Image ofr illustration purposes only. Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

From the article:

Do you play netball, have an unusual name or have been made redundant due to the coronavirus pandemic? If the answer to any of these things is yes, you could face an uphill battle for securing a job over the next six months, especially if the company you’re applying to join uses artificial intelligence for recruitment.

Companies are using flawed historical data sets to train their AI, which means that women, Black people and people of colour could find themselves discriminated against before they’ve made it to the interview room. According to Frida Polli, a former academic neuroscientist at Harvard and MIT, and CEO of Pymetrics, AIs are akin to toddlers in that they learn from the humans around them.

“They look at the world and say, ‘I’m gonna learn from that’,” she explains. “AIs are learning from the origins of bias – the human brain.”

The coronavirus crisis has already cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. According to the Insolvency Service, employers were planning to make at least 139,000 redundancies in June. In July, out-of-work benefit claims reached 2.7 million, according to the Department of Work and Pensions; 45 per cent of these were a result of people losing their jobs during the pandemic. When furlough support ends in October, companies looking to hire staff could face a tsunami of applicants.

But if they use AI to lighten the load on HR departments, they risk simply transferring existing bias on a mass scale. Back in 2018, Amazon had to scrap a machine learning program it had been using to sieve through job applications because of the use of historical data. It turned out that because of the traditional hiring choices of the past, the AI did not like women. This could happen again if companies do not act quickly.

Job applicants during the pandemic could also be discriminated against for gaps in their CVs because of redundancies and career breaks, says Raluca Crisan, co-founder of AI bias analysing company ETIQ.

“If an AI has a timeline feature, which evaluates the timescale of being at a job, people could be penalised due to redundancy or shorter times at job caused by Covid-19,” she explains. “The discrepancies in the data could mean that the top talent could be culled, resulting in smaller talent polls of candidates.”

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