Amazon gets rid of ‘sexist’ hiring tool
AMAZON has scrapped a “sexist” internal tool that used artificial intelligence to sort through job applications.
The programme was created by a team at Amazon’s Edinburgh office in 2014 as a way to sort through CVs and pick out the most promising candidates.
However, it taught itself to prefer male candidates over female ones, members of the team said.
They noticed it was penalising CVs that included the word “women’s”, like “women’s chess club captain”. It also reportedly downgraded graduates of two allwomen’s colleges.
The problem stemmed from the fact that the system was trained on data submitted over a 10-year period, most of which came from men.
The AI was tweaked in an attempt to fix the bias. However, last year, Amazon lost faith in its ability to be neutral and abandoned the project.
Amazon recruiters are believed to have used the system to look at the recommendations when hiring, but did not rely on the rankings. Currently, women make up 40pc of Amazon’s workforce. Stevie Buckley, co-founder of UK job website Honest Work, used by companies like Snapchat to recruit for technology roles, said: “The basic premise of expecting a machine to identify strong job applicants based on historic hiring practices at your company is a sure-fire method to rapidly scale inherent bias and discriminatory recruitment practices.” The danger of inherent bias in the use of algorithms is a common problem in the technology industry. Algorithms are not told to be biased, but can become unfair through the data they use.
Jessica Rose, a technical manager at education start-up FutureLearn said: “The value of AI as it’s used in recruitment is limited by human bias. Developers and AI specialists carry the same biases as talent professionals, but we’re often not asked to interrogate or test for these during the development process.”
Last month, IBM launched a tool designed to detect bias in AI. The Fairness 360 Kit allows developers to see clearly how their algorithms work and which data is used. Amazon declined to comment. –
Amazon recruiters are believed to have used the system to look at the proposals when hiring, but did not rely on the rankings