For today’s job hunters, a firm handshake, good eye contact, and a glowing résumé could all fall second to computer savvy. After all, in today’s world, that interviewer might be a microprocessor. Now a New York City law may limit the computer’s role in the hiring process.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has come into common usage in recruitment and hiring. Employers from fast food chains to Wall Street—nearly 83% of U.S. companies!—rely on AI to speed up staffing. Computers scan résumés, conduct video interviews, and administer online tests.
Prasanna Tambe teaches at the Wharton School of Business. “Technology has made it easier than ever to apply for jobs. So recruiters have increasingly large stacks of applicants,” he says. “Tools that can help recruiters sort . . . are very attractive.”
But AI hiring processes aren’t perfect.
“AI systems learn to make predictions based on data,” explains Tambe. He says descriptions of who makes a good candidate “are generally more accurate for groups [that] have more data available.”
Amazon’s AI hiring practices support Tambe’s point. The company stopped using AI in 2018. That’s when developers realized the tool discriminated against females—because Amazon’s data was based on mostly male job holders.
Christians can embrace the benefits of artificial intelligence, like speed and efficiency, while rejecting threats to godly living, like prejudices and dehumanizing practices. (Romans 2:11)
A bill proposed by the NY city council may help restrain AI bias. It aims to expose the complex algorithms that rank candidates based on how they speak or write.
The bill forces AI-using employers to conduct yearly audits showing they don’t discriminate based on race or gender. The bill also allows job seekers to choose a different process—like involving real, live humans—for application reviews.
Some digital rights activists still say that NYC’s bill doesn’t go far enough to curb age or disability biases.
Of course, in-person hiring methods have problems too. Kevin Parker is CEO of a video interview company. He believes human interviewers can show more bias than computers. That’s because all people bring flawed expectations and assumptions to every interaction. But “by utilizing AI and committing to regular audits,” Parker says, “hiring teams can be sure that they are consistently and fairly evaluating” candidates.
NY Chamber of Commerce executive Helana Natt believes that employers and employees “should know that hiring firms are using these algorithms.” She says, “It’s all about transparency.”
Why? Computers are here to stay, and while they are helpful tools, Christians should be prepared to evaluate uses of artificial intelligence against biblical injunctions and weigh shortcuts against the requirement to show dignity and impartiality to others.