NYC Seeks to Ban Biased Algorithms with Bill to Demand Proof of Fairness
With the chaos occurring these days in the job market, it’s safe to say the last thing a prospective employee need is a heartless algorithm rejecting their application. And that is the case in some of the places you might be seeking employment. AI has been used to help speed up the hiring and recruiting process for several larger companies. And it has been proven to be unfair in some of its hiring decisions.
The City of New York’s City Council has decided to level the hiring field a bit.
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.
“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.
Since this bill is the first in the nation, it’s raised concerns that perhaps the NYC bill doesn’t go quite far enough. It’s thought that it might set the bar for other state or federal legislation that doesn’t go the full distance to avoid bias in hiring.
“The approach of auditing for bias is a good one. The problem is New York City took a very weak and vague standard for what that looks like,” said Alexandra Givens, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology. She said the audits could end up giving AI vendors a “fig leaf” for building risky products with the city’s imprimatur.
The bias of age, disabilities, gender, or race is the target of the NYC bill and it would require companies to submit their software to technology audits if it is reported by individuals who were denied employment or even an interview. The legislation would impose fines on employers or employment agencies of up to $1,500 per violation.
Outgoing Mayor Bill De Blasio has said he is in support of the bill but has not yet put his signature on it. It is scheduled to take effect in 2023 during Mayor-elect Eric Adams’s first term.
The article we found at nbcnews.com might give you pause to think about your own place of employment or the municipality where you live.
The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce said the city’s employers are also unlikely to see the new rules as a burden. It will be up to the vendors of the software to prove their product meets the NYC guidelines
“It’s all about transparency and employers should know that hiring firms are using these algorithms and software, and employees should also be aware of it,” said Helana Natt, the chamber’s executive director.
read more at nbcnews.com