Unilever has said it is saving hundreds of thousands of pounds a year by replacing human recruiters with an artificial intelligence (AI) system, amid warnings of a populist backlash against the spread of machine learning.
The system scans graduate candidates’ facial expressions, body language and word choice and checks them against traits that are considered to be predictive of job success. Vodafone, Singapore Airlines and Intel are among other companies to have used similar systems.
Polling commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and released on Oct. 25 suggests 60 percent of the public are opposed to the use of automated decision-making in recruitment as well as in criminal justice.
“New technologies are being adopted at a rapid pace, and regulators and the public are struggling to keep up,” said Asheem Singh, acting head of tech and society at the RSA.
“An increasing amount of decision-making — in our public services, the job market and healthcare — is taking place via ever-more opaque processes. This is a source of anxiety for the general public. The measures we are proposing — such as a new watchdog to scrutinize decisions made by AI on behalf of the public — are crucial first steps in increasing clarity and accountability.”
The RSA panel spent four days examining the spread of AI and automated decision-making into recruitment, healthcare and policing. Members of the panel voiced hopes that algorithms could make fairer, less-biased decisions on things such as pay raises or promotions, and that facial recognition programs might be more objective than human police officers.
But they raised questions about whether automated decision systems would reinforce an organization’s existing profile, for example as traditionally white and male, and how the public would know the technology was being used.
The multinational Unilever is using software from a US-company, HireVue, having first trialed it in 2017. HireVue has previously said the software scans the language that candidates use — for example, active or passive phrases, tone of voice and speed of delivery — as well as facial expressions such as furrowed brows, smiles and eye-widening.
“It is helping to save 100,000 hours of interviewing time and roughly US$1 million in recruitment costs each year for us globally,” said a Unilever spokeswoman. “It is, however, just one of many tools we use for our graduate recruitment.”
She said video interviews were optional and candidates were asked to allow or disallow automated decision-making being used to evaluate their video interview. They were sent information about how to prepare beforehand and could choose to speak to a “talent adviser” instead if they preferred.
The system is now used across Unilever’s entire graduate recruitment program, and HireVue claims it has resulted in a more ethnically and gender-diverse workforce.
Unilever said that at the early stage in the recruitment process when HireVue was used, it was not compulsory for candidates to give their gender or ethnicity so it was not able to provide representative data.
True or False
1. The AI job-interview system makes automatic decisions based on analyzing candidates’ facial expressions and language.
2. Similar AI-driven automated systems are already in use within public services and the criminal justice system.
3. The public has embraced AI since it saves time and money and is well-regulated.
4. Compared to humans, AI is able to make fairer and non-biased decisions.
(Lin Lee-kai, Taipei Times)
1. artificial intelligence phr.
人工智慧 (ren2 gong1 zhi4 hui4)
2. facial expression phr.
臉部表情 (lian3 bu4 biao3 qing2)
3. body language phr.
肢體語言 (zhi1 ti2 yu3 yan2)
4. recruitment n.
徵才 (zheng1 cai2)
5. algorithm n.
演算法 (yan3 suan4 fa3)
6. facial recognition phr.
人臉辨識 (ren2 lian3 bian4 shi4)
7. objective adj.
客觀的 (ke4 guan1 de5)
8. video interview phr.
線上面試 (xian4 shang4 mian4 shi4)
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