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The computers rejecting your job application – BBC News

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A test from Pymetrics

Pymetrics

Frankly, it was a little stressful to know that my application was being judged by a computer and not by a human being.

A professional journalist, I had recently applied for a new job, and for the first part of the recruitment process the publisher made me play a number of simple online games from the comfort of my own home.

These included having to quickly count the number of dots in two boxes, inflating a balloon before it burst to win money, and matching emotions to facial expressions. Then an artificial intelligence (AI) software system assessed my personality, and either passed or failed me. No human had a look-in.

I wondered: is it fair for a computer alone to accept or reject your job application?

Welcome to the fast-growing world of AI recruitment.

While recruiters have been using AI for around the past decade, the technology has been greatly refined in recent years. And demand for it has risen strongly since the pandemic, thanks to its convenience and fast results at a time when staff may be off due to Covid-19.

The AI recruitment software that put me through the above test was provided by a New York-based firm called Pymetrics.

The questions, and your answers to them, are designed to evaluate several aspects of a jobseeker’s personality and intelligence, such as your risk tolerance and how quickly you respond to situations.

Or as Pymetrics puts it, “to fairly and accurately measure cognitive and emotional attributes in only 25 minutes”.

Its AI software is now used in the initial recruitment processes of a number of multinational companies, such as McDonald’s, bank JP Morgan, accountancy firm PWC, and food group Kraft Heinz. An interview with a human recruiter then follows if you pass.

“It’s about helping firms process a much wider pool [of applicants], and getting signals that someone will be successful in a job,” says Pymetrics founder Frida Polli.

Frida Polli

Frank Ellis

“Everyone wants the right job, and to hire the right person. It doesn’t benefit anyone for the match to be off. Trying to use these AI systems in smart ways is to everyone’s advantage.”

Another provider of AI recruitment software is Utah-based HireVue. Its AI system records videos of job applicants answering interview questions via their laptop’s webcam and microphone.

The audio of this is then converted into text, and an AI algorithm analyses it for key words, such as the use of “I” instead of “we” in response to questions about teamwork. The recruiting company can then choose to let HireVue’s system reject candidates without having a human double-check, or have the candidate moved on for a video interview with an actual recruiter.

HireVue says that by September 2019 it had conducted a total of 12 million interviews, of which 20% were via the AI software. The remaining 80% were with a human interviewer on the other end of a video screen. The overall figure has now risen to 19 million, with the same percentage split.

HireVue first started offering the AI interviews in 2016. Its users include computer chip designer ARM, and travel services firm Sabre.

Kevin Parker, the chief executive of HireVue, says the AI is more impartial than a human interviewer, as it has no bias. “There’s a desire to have a fair process, and AI can help evaluate all those candidates in a very consistent way,” he says.

An applicant recording a HireVue video interview

HireVue

Pymetrics also says that its system ensures more fairness, and that “every algorithm is rigorously tested for bias”. Ms Polli adds that it is better than firms simply relying upon a candidate’s resume or CV.

“A resume can only give information about someone’s hard skills, but research and common sense tells us that it’s also soft skills that contribute to job success,” she says.

So, AI recruitment is nothing to worry about? Online retail giant Amazon doesn’t think so.

In 2018 it was widely reported to have scrapped its own system, because it showed bias against female applicants. The Reuters news agency said that Amazon’s AI system had “taught itself that male candidates were preferable” because they more often had greater tech industry experience on their resume. Amazon declined to comment at the time.

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James Meachin of UK business psychology consultancy Pearn Kandola is a specialist on the recruitment sector. He says that AI systems still have a number of challenges.

“The first step in selecting candidates is to correctly parse what they have said or written,” he says. “On this basic level, leading voice assistants from Google, Amazon and Apple still routinely fail to understand what people are saying. For example, Scottish accents pose a challenge, as do unusual words or phrases.

“If an AI system can accurately transcribe what has been said, the second – greater – challenge is to detect the meaning embedded in those words – the semantics, nuance and context. Here, AI systems can fail to understand. In contrast, a human listening to the conversation will intuitively understand what is meant.”

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New Tech Economy is a series exploring how technological innovation is set to shape the new emerging economic landscape.

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Prof Sandra Wachter, a senior research fellow in AI at Oxford University, says: “I would be very worried if people said that using AI in recruitment only has benefits.

“All machine learning works in the same basic way – you go through a bunch of data, and find patterns and similarities.

“So in recruitment, looking at the successful candidates of the past is the data you have. Who were the chief executives in the past, who were the Oxford professors in the past? The recruitment algorithms are going to pick out more men.

“The risk is that if you don’t put in strong tests, women and people of colour are overlooked.”

To help firms and other organisations avoid bias in their AI systems, not just for recruitment, but for all their business operations, Prof Wachter wrote a paper on the issue last year. Subsequently, her proposals have been adopted by Amazon.

A man pointing to photos of job applicants

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There are, however, more benign ways in which AI is being used by the recruitment sector.

Take Seattle-based Textio. Its software uses AI to help firms write job adverts that appeal to a broad range of people, by making the language both more inclusive, and easy to understand. It is used by everyone from the World Bank to Dropbox, Spotify and Tesco.

Then there is Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry, whose AI recruitment software trawls the internet for potential job candidates. So firms don’t have to wait for the best possible people to apply for positions, they can instead more easily proactively chase the individuals they want.

But what about my AI job interview? I haven’t been called for an interview with a human. Who knows if they’re still looking to hire for the position though?

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Facebook says remote working move could slow jobs growth in Ireland

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Facebook still plans to “aggressively” grow staff numbers in its European headquarters in Ireland but a company-wide policy allowing permanent remote work from other countries could slow that growth over time, its Irish chief said on Friday.

Ireland’s economy is hugely reliant on multinational firms that employ around one in eight Irish workers and any move to facilitate remote working abroad would add to the challenge already posed by a planned global corporate tax overhaul.

Facebook, which is one of Ireland’s largest such employers with around 3,000 full-time staff and another 3,000 contractors, will allow some workers to permanently relocate after more than a year of many working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible employees in Facebook offices in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom will be able to move to another one of those locations. U.S.-based staff can also move to Canada, it added.

Facebook Ireland’s Gareth Lambe said it was still working out how many Irish-based employees would be eligible to take advantage of the policy. Fewer than half of its staff are Irish nationals.

“We’re going to continue to grow aggressively,” he told national broadcaster RTE, citing a move in the next year or two to a new 57,000 square metre campus in Dublin that it intends to fill with 7,000 employees.

“This won’t have on balance a material impact on the growth of employment for Facebook in Ireland,” he said, referring to the remote working policy. “We have a target this year of adding about an additional 700 employees and we’re going to continue to do that and we’re going to continue to grow,”

“But this is a significant evolution and in the future over the coming years and decades, it is possible that the growth of jobs and numbers may not be as fast in Ireland as it would have been before it.”

Lambe said Facebook’s main Europe, Middle East and Africa decision makers will continue to be based in Dublin, meaning its corporate tax status will not change. However those permanently relocating abroad would no longer pay income tax in Ireland.

Responding to the move, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said one of the consequences of the pandemic will be a lot more mobility of workers across national borders but that foreign direct investment will remain “an indispensable part” of Ireland’s economic model.

 

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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Apple hires former BMW executive for car project

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Apple Inc has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive at BMW AG’s electric car division, to help its vehicle initiatives, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Kranz will report to Apple veteran Doug Field, who led development of Tesla Inc’s mass-market Model 3 and now runs Apple’s car project, the report said.

Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when Apple first started designing its own vehicle from scratch.

In December, Apple said it was moving forward with its self-driving car technology and targeting to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology by 2024.

 

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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Amazon SideWalk in Canada

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Amazon is ready to initiate the sidewalk throughout the world including Canada. So many people are concerned about what exactly is a sidewalk and should you be concerned in any way?

Well to put it simply amazon sidewalk is a new way of communication where amazon creates a network by using its echo devices and other devices. What is going to happen is that these devices would be using your home’s internet connection and creating a small network for communication. Using the ring and echo devices this will be executed where they would be forming a bridge (as the company calls it) between the two devices. While these various bridges would be used to create networks.

Amazon said this is done for easier connections and simpler setups even when your wifi goes out. Which would allow you to use title trackers and find pets easily. You would not have to spend 500 dollars on those devices but rather just use this to get updated information on your belongings. This is going to get a lot of people hooked on the devices. Using your ring and echo devices without your own internet connection sounds pretty good but is there a hidden reason for amazon to become an ISP on its own well that is something only time will tell.

So now the question is should you be concerned about this?

Well if you own an amazon echo device you will have to ask Alexa to opt you out of it because this is going to come in as activated by default. This means that you will need to put in some effort to change this if for any reason you don’t want to be a part of this program.

There are tutorials online that would help you to opt-out of this by using your Alexa app on your phone.

Another concern is that this is not the first time a company has done something like this. Apple has enhanced the find my network in a similar manner with the introduction of air tags and have responsibility for finding phones, and things using other users devices that might not know that their device is being used in the process.

Well most common people that are using the internet nowadays are more concerned about the data that is being used by these huge corporations and who are they gathering and using the data for their personal and private benefits. Additionally are data sharing policies being used and met with proper standards. Creating a rule is one thing and following it is completely another.

What bodies are placing a check on whether the huge tech giants are following these steps or not? These are the big questions with few answers and to think that now the internet is being owned by one of these giants. I mean the real question everyone should be asking is how big can these giants become and what kind of influence they hold onto our lives in the future?

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