Across the country, at all levels of government and industry, artificial intelligence (AI) is the source of intense focus as the machine learning technology has advanced leaps and bounds in just a couple of years. AI uses specialized tech to write and learn algorithms. It’s more than just a single program, and its uses are vast, with applications in everything from writing essays to self-driving big rig trucks to criminal case sentencing. Obviously, this has MANY implications for employers and employees. One that has captured the attention of government regulators and anti-discrimination lawyers is the use of algorithms in hiring.
Creators and proponents of AI will tell you that this sort of technology used in hiring helps eliminate the pitfalls of innate human biases to actually reduce instances of employment discrimination. But as our Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyers can explain, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Because AI technology relies on machine learning, what is put into it will dictate the results it outputs. So if the information going in is even slightly coded for biases in gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, etc., the results are going to perpetuate those biases – and possibly even compound them. This can be intentional, but from what we’ve seen, it’s largely unintentional. But good intentions don’t change the adverse impact.
And this issue now has a name: Algorithmic Discrimination.
Just last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance workplace algorithmic discrimination and promised to be proactive in getting ahead of the issue so that workplace policies can keep place with the technology. It’s called the Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Fairness Initiative, and it encourages industry self-regulation for companies using AI for recruiting and hiring.