A bill passed by the city council in early November would ban employers from using automated hiring tools unless a yearly bias audit can show they won’t discriminate based on an applicant’s race or gender. It would also force makers of those AI tools to disclose more about their opaque workings and give candidates the option of choosing an alternative process — such as a human — to review their application.
Proponents liken it to another pioneering New York City rule that became a national standard-bearer earlier this century — one that required chain restaurants to slap a calorie count on their menu items.
Instead of measuring hamburger health, though, this measure aims to open a window into the complex algorithms that rank the skills and personalities of job applicants based on how they speak or what they write. More employers, from fast food chains to Wall Street banks, are relying on such tools to speed up recruitment, hiring and workplace evaluations.
“I believe this technology is incredibly positive but it can produce a lot of harms if there isn’t more transparency,” said Frida Polli, co-founder and CEO of New York startup Pymetrics, which uses AI to assess job skills through game-like online assessments. Her company lobbied for the legislation, which favors firms like Pymetrics that already publish fairness audits.
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