Companies in New York City that use artificial intelligence to screen employees must adhere to a new law that mandates their AI hiring software pass an independent audit for bias.
The new law is reportedly the first of its kind and is taking effect on Wednesday. It aims to make companies that use AI hiring software, also called an automatic employment decision tool, or AEDT, pass an independent audit to prove their data trained AI hiring system is free of sexual, racial or any other biases, according to NBC News.
Employers who use AI hiring tools must also make such findings public. If a company’s independent AEDT software hasn’t been audited, it can no longer be used legally, NBC News reported.
Jake Metcalf, a researcher specializing in AI for Data & Society, a nonprofit group, said the law classifies AEDT as a software that “substantially assist or replace discretionary decision making,” and has driven lawyers to advise companies not to take action on it. (RELATED: Chinese Tech Giant Boasts Its AI Chatbot Is Better Than US’ ChatGPT)
“There are quite a few employment law firms in New York that are advising their clients that they don’t have to comply, given the letter of the law, even though the spirit of the law would seem to apply to them,” Metcalf said.
Julia Stoyanovich, a professor at New York University and founder of the Automatic Decisions Systems Task Force in New York City, said the law is “very limited,” and that her studies found that AI hiring software is not effective.
“One of the things that this law does not protect us against are these just nonsensical, bull— screening methods. I can tell you about some of those that I’ve audited, together with a team of collaborators, where it’s just nonsensical entirely,” Stoyanovich said. “So it’s not going to be biased, because it’s just random, as far as I can tell. So it’s going to be equally as nonsensical for men and women and Blacks and whites.”
Artificial intelligence-based programs are frequently criticized for allegedly exhibiting sexism, racism and other biases. Lawmakers at the federal level and some tech companies have called for the regulation of artificially intelligent chatbots and generative programs such as ChatGPT and Midjourney.
The rise in tools that automatically evaluate potential employees has become necessary, according to Cathy O’Neil, CEO of Orcaa, a consulting firm that conducts audits of hiring software for companies that chose to abide by the new law, according to NBC News.
“In the age of the internet, it’s a lot easier to apply for a job. And there are tools for candidates to streamline that process. Like ‘give us your resume and we will apply to 400 jobs,’” O’Neil said. “They get just too many applications. They have to cull the list somehow, so these algorithms do that for them.”
It is not yet clear how the law will be enforced. A spokesperson from New York’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, which is tasked with enforcing the law, said it “will collect and investigate complaints” of any violations reported by the companies.
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