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Group Backed by Top Companies Moves to Combat A.I. Bias in Hiring

Group Backed by Top Companies Moves to Combat A.I. Bias in Hiring
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Group Backed by Top Companies Moves to Combat A.I. Bias in Hiring

Group Backed by Top Companies Moves to Combat A.I. Bias in Hiring

Artificial intelligence software is increasingly being used by HR departments to screen resumes, conduct video interviews and assess job seekers’ mental agility.

Now, some of the largest corporations in the United States are joining in the effort to prevent technology from having a biased effect that could perpetuate or exacerbate past discrimination.

The Data and Trust Alliance, released Wednesday, has signed up key employers in various industries, including CVS Health, Deloitte, General Motors, Humana, IBM, Mastercard, Meta (Facebook’s parent company), Nike and Walmart.

A corporate group is not a lobbying body or a think tank. Instead, it has developed evaluation and scoring systems for artificial intelligence software.

The Data and Trust Alliance, by tapping corporate and outside experts, has created a 55-question assessment, consisting of 13 subjects and a scoring system. The goal is to detect and counter algorithmic biases.

“It’s not just accepting the principles, it’s actually implementing something concrete,” said Kenneth Chenault, co-chairman of the group and former chief executive of American Express, who has agreed to accept the anti-bias tool kit.

Companies are responding to concerns based on extensive research into whether AI programs can inadvertently lead to biased results. Data is the fuel of modern AI software, so it is important to select the data and how it is used to draw conclusions.

If the data used to train the algorithms contain a large amount of information about white men, the results will most likely be biased against minorities or women. Or if the data used to predict success in a company is based on who has done a good job in the company in the past, the result could be an algorithmically reinforced version of past bias.

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Seemingly neutral data sets, when combined with others, can yield results that discriminate by race, gender, or age. The group’s questionnaire, for example, asks about the use of such “proxy” data, including cellphone types, sports affiliations, and social club memberships.

Governments around the world are moving forward to adopt rules and regulations. EU proposes regulatory framework for AI White House is working on a “rights bill” for AI

In an advisory note to companies about the use of the technology, the Federal Trade Commission warned, “Hold yourself accountable – or the FTC will do it for you.”

The Data and Trust Alliance seeks to address the potential dangers of using powerful algorithms in work force decisions, rather than reacting when widespread harm becomes apparent.

Mr. who has been on the Facebook board for two years till 2020. “We have to move on from the age of ‘moving fast and breaking things down and then finding out,'” Chenault said.

Corporate America is pushing for a more diverse workforce. Mr. Chenault, now chairman of venture capital firm General Catalyst, is one of the most prominent African Americans in the business.

Speaking about the new initiative, Ashley Cassowan, executive director of Responsible AI Institute, a non-profit organization that develops certification systems for AI products, said the focused approach and large-company commitment are encouraging.

“But it’s problematic for companies to do it on their own,” said Ms. Casowan, who advised the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on AI issues. “We think this should ultimately be done by an independent authority.”

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The corporate group grew out of conversations between business leaders who recognized that their companies, in almost every industry, were “becoming data and AI companies,” Mr. Chenault said. And that meant new opportunities, but also new risks.

The group has been brought together since 2020 by Mr. Chenolt and Samuel Palmisano, co-chairs of the lead and former CEO of IBM, mainly by inviting CEOs of large companies.

They decided to focus on the use of technology to support workforce decisions in work, promotion, training and compensation. Senior staff from their companies were hired to run the project.

An internal survey found that their companies were adopting AI-guided software into human resources, but most were coming from technology suppliers. And corporate users did not know much about what data manufacturers are using in their algorithmic models or how those models work.

To develop a solution, the corporate group brought in its own people in human resources, data analysis, legalization and procurement, but also software vendors and outside experts. The result is a bias detection, measurement and mitigation system to monitor the data methods and design of human resource software.

“Every algorithm embodies human values, and it gives us another lens to look at it,” said Nuala O’Connor, senior vice president of digital citizenship at Walmart. “It’s practical and operational.”

The evaluation program has been developed and refined over the years. This was intended to apply not only to major human resource software developers such as Workday, Oracle and SAP, but also to small companies emerging from a rapidly growing field called “work tech”.

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Many of the questions in the anti-bias questionnaire focus on data, which is the raw material for AI models.

“If we do not do this responsibly, the promise of this new age of data and AI is doomed,” said Mr. Chenault.

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