Study Reveals That AI Tools Do Not Reduce Recruitment Bias

Researchers from Cambridge University recently said in a study that Artificial Intelligence (AI) hiring tools do not improve diversity, neither do they reduce bias.

‘There is growing interest in new ways of solving problems such as interview bias,’ the researchers said. Their study was published in the journal Philosophy and Technology.

The analysis of candidate applications or videos using AI is referred to as ‘pseudoscience’. In 2020, an international survey of about 500 human resources professionals stated that about a quarter of them made use of AI for ‘talent acquisition, in the form of automation.’

However, University of Cambridge’s Centre for Gender Studies post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Kerry Mackereth stated that its use to reduce bias is counter-productive and ‘a myth’.

‘These tools can’t be trained to only identify job-related characteristics and strip out gender and race from the hiring process, because the kinds of attributes we think are essential for being a good employee are inherently bound up with gender and race,’ Mackereth said.

The study noted that some companies have also found some of these tools challenging. For example, in 2018, Amazon released a statement that it had halted the development of an AI-powered recruitment engine because evidence showed that it could detect gender from applicants’ CVs, and discriminated against female applicants.

The researchers’ focus was to ‘analyze the minutiae of a candidate’s speech and bodily movements’ to observe the resemblance between a company’s ideal employee.

According to co-author, Dr. Eleanor Drage, the image and video analysis technology had ‘no scientific basis’, and was just ‘modern phrenology’.

‘They say that they can know your personality from looking at your face. The idea is that, like a lie-detector test, AI can see “through” your face to the real you,’ Drage said.

With the aid of some of their computer science students, the researchers designed and built their own AI recruitment tool to rate the photographs of candidates based on the ‘big five’ personality traits— agreeableness, extroversion, openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism.

Dr. Drage wrote that ‘When you use our tool, you can see that your personality score changes when you alter the contrast/brightness/saturation.’

Hayfa Mohdzaini, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that research suggested that only about 8% of employers made use of AI to select candidates.

‘AI can efficiently help increase an organization’s diversity by filtering from a larger candidate pool— but it can also miss out on lots of good candidates if the rules and training data are incomplete or inaccurate,’ said Mohdzaini.

‘AI software to analyze candidates’ voice and body language in recruitment is in its infancy and therefore carries both opportunities and risks.’

By Marvellous Iwendi.

Source: BBC News