Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
AP

U.S. civil rights enforcers warn employers against biased AI

  • Updated
  • 0
Artificial Intelligence-Hiring Discrimination

FILE - Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. The federal government said Thursday, May 12, 2022, that artificial intelligence technology to screen new job candidates or monitor their productivity at work can unfairly discriminate against people with disabilities, sending a warning to employers that the commonly used hiring tools could violate civil rights laws. The U.S. Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jointly issued guidance to employers to take care before using popular algorithmic tools meant to streamline the work of evaluating employees and job prospects but which could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The federal government said Thursday that artificial intelligence technology to screen new job candidates or monitor worker productivity can unfairly discriminate against people with disabilities, sending a warning to employers that the commonly used hiring tools could violate civil rights laws.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jointly issued guidance to employers to take care before using popular algorithmic tools meant to streamline the work of evaluating employees and job prospects — but which could also potentially run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We are sounding an alarm regarding the dangers tied to blind reliance on AI and other technologies that we are seeing increasingly used by employers," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the department’s Civil Rights Division told reporters Thursday. "The use of AI is compounding the longstanding discrimination that jobseekers with disabilities face.”

Among the examples given of popular work-related AI tools were resume scanners, employee monitoring software that ranks workers based on keystrokes, game-like online tests to assess job skills and video interviewing software that measures a person's speech patterns or facial expressions.

Such technology could potentially screen out people with speech impediments, severe arthritis that slows typing or a range of other physical or mental impairments, the officials said.

Tools built to automatically analyze workplace behavior can also overlook on-the-job accommodations — such as a quiet workstation for someone with post-traumatic stress disorder or more frequent breaks for a pregnancy-related disability — that enable employees to modify their work conditions to perform their jobs successfully.

Experts have long warned that AI-based recruitment tools — while often pitched as a way of eliminating human bias — can actually entrench bias if they’re taking cues from industries where racial and gender disparities are already prevalent.

The move to crack down on the harms they can bring to people with disabilities reflects a broader push by President Joe Biden's administration to foster positive advancements in AI technology while reining in opaque and largely unregulated AI tools that are being used to make important decisions about people's lives.

“We totally recognize that there’s enormous potential to streamline things," said Charlotte Burrows, chair of the EEOC, which is responsible for enforcing laws against workplace discrimination. “But we cannot let these tools become a high-tech path to discrimination."

A scholar who has researched bias in AI hiring tools said holding employers accountable for the tools they use is a “great first step,” but added that more work is needed to rein in the vendors that make these tools. Doing so would likely be a job for another agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission, said Ifeoma Ajunwa, a University of North Carolina law professor and founding director of its AI Decision-Making Research Program.

“There is now a recognition of how these tools, which are usually deployed as an anti-bias intervention, might actually result in more bias – while also obfuscating it," Ajunwa said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

0 Comments
0
0
0
0
0

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

The Biden administration is taking the first steps to release $45 billion to ensure every U.S. resident has access to high-speed internet by roughly 2028. The administration is inviting governors and other leaders Friday to start the application process. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is overseeing the distribution. Raimondo is traveling to North Carolina and says universal access to broadband internet would be akin to the electrification of rural America during the 1930s, a recognition the internet is a utility needed for U.S. residents to function in today’s economy. The funding is part of the $65 billion for broadband in the $1 trillion infrastructure package President Joe Biden signed into law last November.

Lighter winds allowed for the most intense aerial attack this week on multiple wildfires in New Mexico, including the biggest U.S. wildfire burning northeast of Santa Fe. In Southern California, where a fire that has destroyed at least 20 homes in the coastal community of Laguna Niguel, the mandatory evacuation area was scaled back Friday from 900 residences to 131. West of Santa Fe, residents remain on alert as a fire slowly creeps toward the city of Los Alamos. That's where scientists at a U.S. national security lab are charged with assessing apocalyptic threats, including wildfires. Public schools remained closed there Friday as many residents prepared for possible evacuations.

New Zealand will help pay for lower-income families to scrap their old gas guzzlers and replace them with cleaner hybrid or electric cars as part of a sweeping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The government said it plans to spend 569 million New Zealand dollars ($357 million) on the trial program. It's part of a larger plan that includes subsidies for businesses to reduce emissions, a switch to an entirely green bus fleet by 2035 and curbside food-waste collection for most homes by the end of the decade. The plan represents a step toward the pledges the nation made under the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Elon Musk has put his plan to buy Twitter on temporary hold, raising fresh doubts about whether he’ll proceed with the $44 billion acquisition. In a tweet early Friday, the Tesla billionaire said he's skeptical that the number of inauthentic accounts presented by Twitter is as low as the company suggests. The issue of fake accounts on Twitter is not secret. In its quarterly filing with the SEC, even Twitter expressed doubts that its count of bot accounts was correct, conceding that the estimate may be low.

It’s often said that fans at live concerts give the band a jolt of electricity. Coldplay wants to literally harness it. The pop superstars have added kinetic dance floors and energy-storing stationary bikes to their latest world tour, encouraging fans to help power the show as they dance or spin. It’s part of a larger push to make the tour more environmentally friendly. The band, whose songs include the appropriately titled “Higher Power,” has pledged to be as sustainable and low-carbon as possible, hoping to cut their CO2 emissions by 50%.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his deal to buy Twitter can’t “move forward” unless the company shows public proof that less than 5% of the accounts on the platform are fake or spam. Musk made the comment in a reply to another user on Twitter early Tuesday. He spent much of the previous day in a back-and-forth with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal. Agrawal posted a series of tweets explaining his company’s effort to fight bots and how it has consistently estimated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake.

As Ukrainian refugees flooded into Poland to escape Russia's invasion, a hacking group aligned with the Kremlin tried to spread rumors and hoaxes intended to divide Ukraine from its allies. In one bizarre disinformation campaign, the hacking group known as Ghostwriter sought to spread rumors that Polish criminals were waiting to harvest the organs of the child refugees. That disinformation operation was one of many identified in a new report from the cyber security firm Mandiant which revealed how Russia has used fake accounts, state-controlled media and diplomats to spread disinformation and propaganda about its invasion.

Broadcast television networks, inundated with competition from cable and streaming services, have learned the power of franchises. Last week's Nielsen company list is a stark reminder: 12 of the 20 most popular scripted series last week were parts of existing franchises — the three “Chicago” dramas on NBC and the three “FBI” shows on CBS, for example. ABC, in announcing its new fall schedule on Tuesday, said it will try to create its own franchise by spinning off a companion version to its show “The Rookie” in the fall. CBS won the week in prime time last week, with NBC coming in second.

An aquarium and environmental organization are working together to collect better data about shark sightings and help keep people informed of when the animals are nearby. The New England Aquarium in Boston and Chatham, Massachusetts-based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said Wednesday their expansion of the conservancy’s “Sharktivity” smartphone app will help protect both the humans and the sharks. The conservancy has used the app since 2016 to collect information from the public about the presence of sharks. Now, the conservancy is contracting with the aquarium to employ a shark expert to verify shark sighting reports that arrive via Sharktivity.

Elon Musk’s ties to China through his role as electric car brand Tesla’s biggest shareholder could add complexity to his bid to buy Twitter. Other companies that want access to China’s huge market give in to pressure to follow Beijing’s positions on Taiwan and other issues. Internet barriers block most of China’s public from seeing global social media, including Twitter, though Beijing uses the platform to convey its own messaging. Some experts believe Tesla Inc.’s ambitions in China could give its ruling Communist Party leverage to silence human rights activists and other critics of Beijing if Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter goes ahead. Chinese customers bought half the Teslas sold last year.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News