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More employers are using AI to hire workers, but one city is pushing back

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Posted at 12:13 PM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 12:13:54-05

More employers are using artificial intelligence to hire workers. It can speed up the process from recruitment to initial workplace evaluations.

If you're applying for a job, you likely won't know whether there are AI tools looking at your resume. New York University’s director of the Center for Responsible AI, Julia Stoyanovich, compares this to a nutrition label. Without it, we wouldn't know exactly what we're eating.

“The burden of disclosing this has to be on the producer of the food in the food example and here on the vendor of the tool, as well as on the employer who is using that tool, is to tell people that they will be screened by a machine for any number of reasons, but really just to not deny us our agency as people right. I mean, we have a right to know and to then act accordingly,” said Stoyanovich.

She says that means having the option of requesting a human to look at your application instead.

New York City could make that a law. A bill awaiting the mayor’s signature would require a company to say if AI is being used in the hiring process. It would even ban employers from using it as a tool if they don’t pass a yearly bias audit to show the technology doesn’t discriminate based on the applicant’s race or gender.

Experts say protections for job seekers may need to go beyond that by creating consequences for companies if they refuse to provide an alternative to AI.

“The danger with this is that individuals who are disadvantaged historically in this process will suffer an even greater disadvantage, so if somebody who is disabled, for example, says, ‘I cannot be evaluated by this process because it will treat me unfairly with respect to my disability, I need accommodations,’ the employer in fact should be compelled to provide such accommodation,” said Stoyanovich.

New York City is the first to propose regulation on AI hiring tools.

The Center for Responsible AI says there is currently no data on how often cities use AI hiring tools.