Policymakers Taking Closer Look at Artificial Intelligence

June 28, 2019

The debate on artificial intelligence is heating up both in Congress and in the states, with its use in the employment context a steady refrain.

The Senate Commerce Committee examined the use of machine learning in a hearing this week.  The panel focused mostly on the end user experience—however, AI's use in the employment context was mentioned several times in witness testimony.

“AI systems are trained on data sets that... [are] neither neutral or objective, which leads to AI systems reflecting and amplifying cultural biases, value judgements, and social inequities,” said Rashida Richardson, Director of Policy Research at the AI Now Institute at New York University, in her statement.

A recent, first of its kind bill introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) would attempt to protect workers by requiring companies to:

  • Audit their use of automated decision systems, including training data, for impacts on accuracy, fairness, bias, discrimination, privacy and security;

  • Evaluate how their information systems protect the privacy and security of individuals' personal information, including that of employees (in the bill “consumer” means “an individual”); and

  • Correct any issues they discover during the impact assessments within a certain time frame.

How these requirements would be enforced would be up to the FTC, which is given broad authority under the bill.

In Illinois, meanwhile, Governor J. B. Pritzker is considering signing a bill passed by the Illinois legislature last week that would require companies to:

  • Disclose to applicants their use of AI to analyze job interview videos, including detailing how the AI works and what characteristics it uses to evaluate applicants;

  • Obtain consent from applicants to use AI in job interview videos; and

  • Not share the videos “except with persons whose expertise or technology is necessary in order to evaluate an applicant’s fitness for a position.”

Takeaway:  The days of relatively unregulated development and use of artificial intelligence components is coming to an end.  As lawmakers consider various proposals, artificial intelligence in the employment context will be increasingly in the spotlight.  HR Policy Association is engaged on the issue both on Capitol Hill and via the Recruiting Software Initiative, which aims to help companies understand AI offerings in the recruitment space.