Can bias and prejudice be totally eliminated from machine intelligence enabled hiring practices? HBR suggests that algorithm is in part, our opinions embedded in code. They reflect our innate biases, and prejudices which can lead to machine learning mistakes and misinterpretations. For HR professionals, machine learning and artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the industry. Let's talk about how we can navigate ethical pitfalls as this tech gets embedded into recruiting operations.
I'll start by suggesting, like Big Data, the term AI or artificial intelligence is widely overused. This article will cover themes around robotics, automation, machine learning and machine intelligence; That is, "the science of getting computers to learn and act like humans do, and improve their learning over time in autonomous fashion, by feeding them data and information in the form of observations and real-world interactions."
While these terms have been used synonymously to describe this technology revolution, I want to differentiate between AI, and machine learning/machine intelligence. The state of true AI, as coined by John McCarthy in 1956, describes a state where computers can think for themselves. This definition of AI largely does not exist today and some experts suggest it will not for probably another decade. Machine learning, an application of AI, enables the analysis of large amounts of data, to predict future trends. This is very much a reality we all contribute to, and experience daily.
The AI Apocalypse
Two years ago, Stephen Hawkins was asked a question. Will AI kill or save humankind? His answer, simply put, suggested that we are all doomed. While not as apocalyptic as Hawkins, other tech leaders such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates have come forward to express similar concerns. While Google's head of AI is not worried about the impending AI apocalypse, John Gianandrea comments on the relationship between humans, AI systems, and learned human prejudices. He says, “The real safety question, if you want to call it that, is that if we give these systems biased data, they will be biased.”
Last year, Facebook's artificial intelligence robots started talking to each other in their own language. The AI used by Google for its Translate tool created its own language. Both organizations were happy with the development, and Google opted to keep it going.
There's no denying the exciting promise of
Think, disease, and poverty eradication, or autonomous energy and water systems. But then there's the things we probably don't want to see. Anyone fancy the idea of autonomous weapons? How about machines that develop a will of their own, that goes against the fundamental nature of our humanity?
Ethics in Hiring Practices
For the HR industry, the importance of building ethics into AI delivered recruitment and hiring processes is especially crucial, as digital transformation leaders continue to ensure the human threat of bias is mitigated.
How do we do that? It's a complex set of answers and ideas. This was the focus of the track I led at #truLondon, a recruiting event that's part of a global series of non-conference style discussions. In this track, HR and tech pros came together to debate the value of AI in HR, and how we can ensure that the technology enables ethical hiring practices.
We landed on a few considerations.
Karrie Karahalios, professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, presented research at a Google conference recently. She demonstrated how difficult it can be to identify bias in even the most basic algorithms. She says that people generally don't even understand how Facebook filters posts in their newsfeed, essentially illustrating how hard it can be to analyze an algorithm. She says that while its not always as simple as publishing details of the data employed, researchers are working to make these systems give approximations of their workings to engineers and end users.
Kristin Sharma, VP of Bots and AI at Sage spoke at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year. She stressed the importance of developing AI systems that promote diversity. This starts by employing developers of diverse background. She says, “The lack of diversity in the AI developer community means that we aren’t getting enough variety in the information which we are inputting to AI machines. This means that AI systems are working with incomplete data, which is skewed to the perspectives of the engineers who develop them.”
During my research for this article, I tried to find recent statistical data on gender profiles for developers in the U.S. My findings were incomplete, however, with the content available, it still demonstrates a gross under representation of female coders and developers. In the gaming industry alone, 74 percent of game developers were men worldwide. (Statista) In a 2017 article by HackerRank, they suggest women make up less than a third of the tech talent pool in Silicon Valley. At Google and Facebook, women make up just 17 percent and 15 percent of technical positions.
"The lack of diversity in the AI developer community means that we aren’t getting enough variety in the information which we are inputting to AI machines."
If we believe developer diversity is key to ensuring biased data doesn't creep into AI algorithm, we have a much bigger problem to solve.
Tech Should Augment, not Replace
I had a respected leader once say that decisions should be made by two data points and a gut feeling. I think that rings true here. AI can have many useful applications, including assisting HR professionals with menial tasks, and streamlining a recruiters job and effectiveness. It also has the potential to revolutionize an organizations operation and efficiencies. Machine learning should enable human decision making, not replace it fully. There's something to be said for the human connection, in combination with data points, that drive hiring decisions. While some can argue that it is that human element, which can create subconscious bias. I think we should consider the importance of the face-to-face connection, a synergy which can be developed through personal communication, as well as looking to other hiring sources including the more traditional tried and true referrals.
Don't Forget the Human Connection
While we're on the topic of being human, let's not forget the value of connecting to each other in person. I'm excited about the potential of AI and Machine learning, but we're people for goodness sake. Yes, I work remotely, and thrive in a flexible environment, but there's still part of me that craves that personal connection; something that can't be fully replaced by even the best of distributed workforce enablement technologies. #TruLondon track participants were keen to mention that the human-connection is critical to the success of teams, and technology can't fully replace that innate ability to connect as people, in the case of engagement and recruitment.
The Race to Digitize
Leaders in HR and Workforce Solution are racing to to understand the impact of machine learning, robotics and automation for their business today and in the future. Many #truLondon attendees were encouraged by the promise of AI and how it can optimize their roles, and the talent experience. We should not forget that we have a social responsibility to ensure these systems do not inherit bias that can further perpetuate stereotypes, and socioeconomic gaps that we may see in the hiring process today.
Mona (Wehbe) Ketterl
I am a technologist, and marketing pro with 15+ years of experience in corporate, consulting, and agency. My 2018 research and consulting focus is on understanding the real business, social, cultural and ethical impacts of digital technologies such as AI, voice user interfaces, predictive analytics, IoT, wearable devices, and AR/VR/MR. I'm inspired by the musings of post modern theorists including Donna Haraway (The Cyborg Manifesto), and the work of William Blake.
Digital transformation is one of the most important topics facing retail today, as demand for digital innovation and market share increase at a rapid pace. Digital consumers are changing the face of retail, putting pressure on brands to adapt to this transformation. A recent study shares that £150bn of retail sales are now influenced by digital, and that retailers whose services don’t meet customers’ expectations could lose more than £12bn a year.
I'll be in Munich on July 5-6 at the Digital Signage Summit in Munich to share the stage with my peers at Vectorform. We'll talk about the future of retail in a smart and connected world and the important role technology is playing in driving a necessary digital transformation in the retail industry. We will share insight into how you can innovate today, optimize the customer experience and transform your brand through the latest technologies in mobile, IoT, voice user interfaces and immersive reality.
I hope to see my friends in the retail industry there next month!
About Digital Signage Summit
Digital Signage Summit Europe is Europe’s leading strategy conference and exhibition for the Digital Signage and DooH industry. Learn more and register today.
Vectorform invents digital products and experiences for the world’s leading brands, with a focus on Mobile, Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality, Internet of Things, Smart Home, Connected Vehicle and Wearable Technology. Founded in 1999, Vectorform has five global offices: Seattle, Detroit, New York, Munich and Hyderabad. Visit Vectorform.com and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
#truMunich, the recruiting “unconference”, is part of a global series. There are no presentations, no pitching, and no name tags. They are designed to encourage conversation and debate between people with shared interests and challenges in recruitment. Below are four key themes that stood out during the event.
Workplace transformation. Smart technologies. Team mobility. Social recruitment.
These were all key themes at #truMunich, the recruiting “unconference” where I recently led a track on the future of work in a smart and connected world. The event is part of a global series led by HR tech and recruiting leader, Bill Boorman (literal hat tip), where there’s no presentations, no pitching, and no name tags. They are designed to encourage conversation and debate between people with shared interests and challenges in recruitment. With all the exciting debates in the various tracks, here are four key themes that stood out during #truMunich.
1. Geography Is Not Our Master and Workforce Mobility Is on the Rise
The global mobile workforce is set to increase from 1.45 billion in 2016, to 1.87 billion in 2022, according to Strategy Analytics’ latest report, “Global Mobile Workforce Forecast Update.” Over the past decade, a growing number of millennial workers, primarily from the U.S. and Europe, have leveraged technology to work remotely. Furthermore, the World Economic Forum shares that flexibility in the workplace is a key driver of transformation within the workplace.
#truMunich participants discussed how technology, gamification and social media can be used to keep remote teams connected, engaged, productive and focused. Technology is going to be increasingly critical to ensure success in this flexible work model, which leads me to my second point…
2. Technology Is Driving Workplace Transformation
HR tech talk is a hot topic right now. Vendors, brands, and workforce organizations are taking a seat at the sametable to understand how adopting bold new technologies can transform the workplace. The potential uses and promise of virtual reality (VR) in the workplace are in the early stages of exploration, especially as a way to improve education, test products, and increase global team collaboration. In particular sectors, the use of VR and augmented reality (AR) technologies to revolutionize training and learning is growing rapidly, such as within the utility, scientific, and consumer industries. (Learn more about how we did this with DTE Energy and the ‘Working at Heights’ high-consequence training experience.)
3. The Power of Play in Employee Engagement
Employee engagment is a complicated topic that has stymied leaders for decades and spawned a sea of research into engagement and change management techniques. Still, 70% of transformations – along with the revenue and profits they could have yielded – fall by the wayside. Perhaps not coincidentally, 70% of employees do not consider themselves engaged at work. It seems traditional change methods may have met their match in the disengaged modern employee. Engaging employees with gamification at an enterprise level may be the long awaited answer to motivating and connecting employees in an increasingly global and mobile workforce environment.
“Engaging employees with gamification at an enterprise level may be the long awaited answer to motivating and connecting employees in an increasingly global and mobile workforce environment.”
The value of gamification was universally understood at #truMunich. The challenge is how to operationalize this successfully, with limited internal resources, time constraints, and competing priorities. Leveraging an eco-system of partners to close the innovation-execution gap can be a key accelerator in developing next generation employee engagement tools that drive business forward.
4. Smart Offices and the Tech Savvy Generation
Smart offices, also known as responsive or digital workplaces where technology is used to make our physical work space “smart” and adaptable to company workflows, are on the rise. We understand that smart technologies are transforming the way we live, work, and play. Gartner Research predicts there will be 25 billion IoT-enabled devices by 2020, and by 2022, a typical family home could contain more than 500 smart devices. But what does this mean for the future of the office?
Steelcase recently delivered a use case at Munich Creative Business Week on the seismic changes we will see during the next decade in the way we work, and the places we choose to work. Embracing the new interactive, smart, and connected office can help make companies more intelligent. The future vision of a smart office is promising, and has potential to improve both the employee experience and corporate profitability.
The Future. Now.
Thanks to our hosts at CareerBuilder and Broad Bean, it was an exciting opportunity to connect with industry peers, technology providers, and HR pros on the future of work and the technologies that will disrupt and transform business across the U.S. and Europe.
Europe’s readiness to connect in a ”smart” way is on a steady track. Change is coming fast, and for most leaders, transformation is serious business – essential to driving growth and achieving an edge in a hyper competitive marketplace. Leaders are starting to examine their talent needs more holistically, and understand that technology must play an increased role to ensure better collaboration and management of this new and distributed global workforce.
Are You Ready for the New Way of Working?
Vectorform works with clients to close the innovation-execution gap, allowing them to fully understand and achieve what’s possible. Learn more about how Vectorform is helping transform businesses, homes, and offices to work and succeed in our increasingly “smart” world. Contact us to continue the conversation.
I spent my undergraduate years studying the impact of technology on society. For years, I analyzed the musings of William Blake, Donna Haraway, and other post-modern theorists. The Cyborg Manifesto criticized the traditional notions of feminism but also the literal (the juxtaposition of man and machine). I am so excited to take that theory and put it into practice at Vectorform, where our mission is to transform lives through technology.
Learn more about what I'll be doing at Vectoform.
Vectorform invents digital products and experiences for the world’s leading brands with a focus on Mobile, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Internet of Things, Smart Home, Connected Vehicle and Wearable Technology. Founded in 1999, Vectorform has five global offices: Seattle, Detroit, New York, Munich and Hyderabad. Visit Vectorform.com and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Another graduation season is behind us, and if you're like many college grads, if you haven't already secured a job, you're on the hunt! As you consider which path to take as you begin your career, don't forget about an alternate work style, free agency, that might prove to be just as opportunistic, if not more liberating, than tradition full-time employment.
Almost a third of all U.S. workers now work as free agents rather than in a traditional employment arrangement. Who are these free agents, and why are they working this way? The answers might surprise you.
In today's healthy job market, Kelly Services says 31% of U.S workers remain free agents, compared to 44% in 2011. Today's workers choose free agency for the independence, and entrepreneurship. And thanks to online job platform that provide project based work (think UpWork, HourlyNerd, Hire My Mom...), It's easier than ever for free agents to connect with employers who want to outsource some of their project.
Today’s free agents are also driven by confidence. Why? Kelly says free agents today are more educated than their counterparts in conventional employment arrangements. A greater percentage have technical and/or professional skill sets. They have a desire for independence and want to choose which companies they work with, which assignments they accept, and how and where they use their skills.
Clearly, in the U.S., free agency is here to stay. If it's something you have not considered as you begin your career, give yourself time to think about this alternate work style. After all, it's not so bad to be working as a web designer for a Boston-based pharmaceutical firm, while living on the beaches of Key West! :)
To learn more about the trends in Free Agency, and how independent workers are changing the employment landscape, download Kelly's Free Agent Research.
When education is the only highlight on their résumé, graduating seniors stand little chance of attracting the attention of employers.
In the United States, 1.6 million students expected to earn a bachelor’s degree this year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Factor in the competition fostered by a global economy, and the number of new graduates vying for employment grows exponentially.
“If students don’t have the opportunity for internships or work experience, they will be at a deficit,” says Marv Russell, HR professional and author of Finding Your Internship: What Employers Want You to Know.
Research from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) supports that view:
In this ebook, you will learn what innovative colleges, students, and employers are doing with their experiential practical learning to succeed in the 21st century.
Source: Kelly Outsourcing & Consulting Group
On November 15, BBC World reached out to me for an interview on my recent ebooks all around personal branding, and the importance of building your digital profile in your job search.
If you read Spanish, or have access to Google Translator, read this article below. It reinforces the importance of having a strong digital portfolio where you can showcase not only your work and personality, but also share your expertise within like-minded communities.
What's great to see is this topic starting to be talked about widely in various industries. Whether you're an active job seeker or happy with your current role, its becoming imperative that you build a solid digital profile which helps you communicate your skills and personality to anyone who may come across your name. Just think, how many times YOU have Googled other people or topics specific to your interests or profession. If you have a strong enough network, your profiles will start appearing in those search results, thus further positioning your personal brand and expertise.
Read the BBC World article here.
Revisit my ebooks on this topic.
The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) recently interviewed me on the methodologies, structure and processes behind what I do in Content Marketing, specific to the Candidate (B2C) audience segment I lead. The outcome is the linked Case Study below that showcases how we operate on the Content Marketing team, or process in developing our strategy and content selection/focus for the year, and the results we're able to achieve with the budget and resources we have. Download the full case study here.
© 2013 The Corporate Executive Board Company. All Rights Reserved.
Building your personal brand may sound like the last thing you need to do if you’re happy and challenged in your current job. It may seem irrelevant if you see a career path inside your current organization, or even if you feel confident to rely on your existing networks for future job opportunities.
Statistics like this put the importance of personal branding —even when you’re not in job-search mode — in perspective. They remind us why simply waiting until you are about to change jobs may be too late to adequately build or balance your online (and offline) reputation.
But, did you know that 70% of employers say they have rejected applicants because of information about them that they have found online1?
Whether you work for yourself, for a large organization or a very small one, it’s just smart career management to demonstrate why you’re an expert in your respective domain — and to do this in ways that colleagues and associates can witness every day. Developing your personal brand is now essential to ongoing career development, even if you’re not actively searching for a new job.
Today, take control of the biggest brand in your life; the brand called ‘You’. Download the full ebook.
We're were in London for #truLondon and TalentNet Live. Day 1 of TalentNetLive went well, as we heard from keynote speaker Lance Richards on his stellar presentation, Talentomics. Check out this recap video!