Picture this quandary: You need a new Customer Service Officer. You’ve got hundreds — maybe even thousands — of potential candidates interested in the position. How do you choose one? You could probably safely knock off the people who misspelled your company’s name or have any typos in their application. And then there are those sweet folks who were honest about their total lack of relevant experience — but then what?
Technology gives us more choices than ever before, but now there are too many choices for a mere human to easily make. Believe it or not, some organizations are turning to AI to make them.
Computer systems that are able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence are making headlines. Companies like PayPal, Netflix, IBM and Facebook are increasingly using artificial intelligence to recruit, vet and hire potential employees. One recruiting technology company, HireVue, even uses a combination of facial recognition technology and predictive analytics to analyze interview videos. From data based on millions of video responses, the software can evaluate potential candidates’ interviews based on tens of thousands of data points, such as the frequency with which an interviewee uses the words “I” versus “we,” pupil dilation and facial temperature.
If you think that people would still prefer to be hired by a human being, think again. According to one Canadian study, 34% of adults under the age of 40 would prefer to be hired by an unbiased computer program. The 2016 study, conducted by Intentions Consulting and Nikolas Badminton, a futurist and expert in the future of work, surveyed 2,299 adults across Canada.
While the findings revealed that younger Canadians were more comfortable with technology, trust in AI wasn’t limited to people under the age of 40. A full quarter (26%) of Canadian adults surveyed believed that “…an unbiased computer program would be more trustworthy and ethical than their workplace leaders and managers.” That might say more about people’s faith in their leaders than their attitudes toward computers, but one thing is clear: people aren’t holding their breath to be hired by a human.
Are you starting to worry about your looming obsolescence? Don’t fret just yet. Certainly tools that reduce bias can be useful – we all know that sexism, racism, ageism, favouritism and nepotism still exist in the workplace. The use of unbiased metrics to increase objectivity isn’t a new idea either. Competency tests and personality tests have been around for a long time, but consider this: Is an IQ test really the best way to determine who the best fit for your organization is? Probably not; at least not on its own.
The same is true of AI. It’s great for narrowing the selection of job candidates, but there’s a point where total objectivity might not be desirable. Some things are just inherently subjective, like whether or not you like someone. (Although AI is getting better at guessing — Internet dating being a prime example.) The day may come when robots are running the show, and we’re just sitting around collecting dust, but the biased human in us suspects that gut feelings will always have a place in the hiring process.