2023Human Resources

Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

A panel discussion asked if Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new Human Resources (HR) during a session titled “Is AI the New HR? Protecting Civil Rights at Work” conducted on March 11, 2023, during the SXSW® (South by Southwest®) 2023 conference in Austin, Texas, from March 10 to 19, 2023. A recording of the discussion is here.

“People generally recognize that social media, shopping, and streaming websites make automated recommendations. But many are unaware that very similar technology has proliferated into work,” reads the program description generated by participants (which does not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW®).

“These automated systems, including artificial intelligence (AI), impact who sees job ads, gets recruited, is interviewed, succeeds in an interview, and ultimately gets hired. On the job, automated systems may determine compensation, promotion, and termination.” The panel discussion consisted of the following people:

  • Charlotte A. Burrows, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • Manish Raghavan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Alexandra Reeve Givens, Center for Democracy & Technology
  • Hilke Schellmann, New York University

AI and automated tech “may perpetuate historical discrimination or create new race, gender, age, and disability biases. This panel gathers experts to explore how AI and automated tech is being used to determine who gets and keeps a job, how discriminatory bias can creep into these systems, and how to prevent it.”

In February 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – a government agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – released written testimony from a public hearing that examined the use of automated systems such as AI by employers in employment decisions.

During the hearing on January 31, 2023 – “Navigating Employment Discrimination in AI and Automated Systems: A New Civil Rights Frontier” – the EEOC heard from witnesses ranging from computer scientists, civil rights advocates, legal experts, industrial-organizational psychologists, and employer representatives.

“The goals of this hearing were to both educate a broader audience about the civil rights implications of the use of these technologies and to identify next steps that the Commission can take to prevent and eliminate unlawful bias in employers’ use of these automated technologies,” EEOC Chair Burrows stated in a press release.

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