NYC aims to be first to rein in AI hiring tools

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Job candidates rarely know when hidden artificial intelligence tools are rejecting their resumes or analyzing their video interviews. But New York City residents may soon find out more about their careers than the computers that make behind-the-scenes decisions.

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A bill passed by the city council in early November would prohibit employers from using automated hiring tools unless an annual bias audit can show they will not discriminate based on an applicant’s race or gender. This would force manufacturers of those AI tools to disclose more about their opaque workings and give candidates the option to choose an alternative process – such as a human – to review their applications.

supporters compared it Another Pioneer New York City Rule Which had become a national standard-bearer earlier this century—one that required chain restaurants to slap a calorie count on their menu items.


Rather than measuring hamburger health, however, the measure aims to open a window into complex algorithms that rank job applicants’ skills and personalities based on their speaking or writing. More employers, from fast food chains to Wall Street banks, rely on such devices To accelerate recruitment, recruitment and workplace evaluation.

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“I believe this technology is incredibly positive, but it can do a lot of damage if there isn’t more transparency,” said Frida Poli, co-founder and CEO of New York startup Pymetrics. Like online assessment. His company lobbied the law, which already favors firms like Pymetrics that publish fairness audits.

But some AI experts and digital rights activists are concerned that it is not enough to curb bias, and say it could set a weak standard for federal regulators and lawmakers as they look to ways to rein in harmful AI applications. Let’s examine those that increase inequalities. in society.

“The auditing approach is good for bias. The problem is that New York City took a very weak and vague standard for what it looks like,” said Alexandra Givens, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology. She said that Audit AI May give sellers a “fig leaf” for manufacturing risky products with the imprint of the city.

Givens said there’s also a problem that the proposal aims to defend only against racial or gender bias, leaving behind a more complex bias toward disabilities or age. She said the bill was recently watered down so that it would effectively ask employers to meet existing requirements under U.S. civil rights laws that unequally impact hiring based on race, ethnicity, or gender. prohibit the practices. The law would impose fines of up to $1,500 per violation on employers or employment agencies—though it would be left up to vendors to audit and show employers that their equipment meets city requirements.

City Council voted 38-4 pass the bill On November 10, giving incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio a month to either sign or veto it or make it go into unsigned law. De Blasio’s office says he supports the bill but has not said whether he will sign it. If enacted, it would take effect in 2023 under the administration of mayor-elect Eric Adams.

Julia Stoyanovich, an associate professor of computer science who directs New York University’s Center for Responsible AI, said the best part of the proposal are the disclosure requirements to tell people that they are being assessed by computers and where their data is. He is going.

“This will shed light on the facilities these devices are using,” she said.

But Stoyanovich said she was also concerned about the effectiveness of bias audits of high-risk AI tools — a concept that is also happening. investigated by the White House, federal agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and MPs in Congress and the European Parliament,

“The burden of these audits falls on the vendors of the tools to show that they adhere to some elementary set of requirements that are very easy to meet,” she said.

The audit will not impact the in-house hiring tools used by tech giants like Amazon. The company abandoned its use of resume-scanning tools several years ago after favoring men for technical roles—as it was comparing job candidates against the company’s own male-dominated tech workers.

There has been much less vocal opposition to the bill by AI hiring vendors that are commonly used by employers. One of them, HireVue, a platform for video-based job interviewing, said in a statement this week that it welcomed the legislation that “demands that all vendors meet the high standards that HireVue has set since the beginning.” supported.”

The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce said the city’s employers are also unlikely to see the new rules as a burden.

Helena Nutt, executive director of the chamber, said, “It’s all about transparency and employers should be aware that companies that are hiring are using these algorithms and software, and employees should be aware of that as well. “

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