This would make a good inspiration for a bestselling Young Adult dystopian trilogy of novels for teenage girls to read: Robots replace HR ladies in the hiring process, but the robots hire more white men because white men tend more often to get the job done.
Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) machine-learning specialists uncovered a big problem: their new recruiting engine did not like women.
The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants’ resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent, five people familiar with the effort told Reuters.
Automation has been key to Amazon’s e-commerce dominance, be it inside warehouses or driving pricing decisions. The company’s experimental hiring tool used artificial intelligence to give job candidates scores ranging from one to five stars – much like shoppers rate products on Amazon, some of the people said.
“Everyone wanted this holy grail,” one of the people said. “They literally wanted it to be an engine where I’m going to give you 100 resumes, it will spit out the top five, and we’ll hire those.”
But by 2015, the company realized its new system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way.
That is because Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry.
Uh, presumably, Amazon’s AI looked not just at old resumes but at how old resumes correlated with job performance among those hired.
Jeff Bezos has hired a lot of people, male and female, over the years and has kept records on how they did. Judging by Jeff’s net worth, which plummeted today to $153 billion, some of them were pretty productive for him; and, even at Amazon, some hires were wash-outs. Jeff’s robots noticed that the old hires with the more masculine-sounding resumes tended to do better than the ones from Womyn’s Studies majors.
In effect, Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable. It penalized resumes that included the word “women’s,” as in “women’s chess club captain.” And it downgraded graduates of two all-women’s colleges, according to people familiar with the matter. They did not specify the names of the schools.
Amazon edited the programs to make them neutral to these particular terms. But that was no guarantee that the machines would not devise other ways of sorting candidates that could prove discriminatory, the people said.
The Seattle company ultimately disbanded the team by the start of last year because executives lost hope for the project, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ….
Another said a new team in Edinburgh has been formed to give automated employment screening another try, this time with a focus on diversity.