Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that 'didn't like women' (2023)

Amazon's machine-learning specialists uncovered a big problem: their new recruiting engine did not like women.

The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants' resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent, five people familiar with the effort told Reuters.

But the firm was ultimately forced to end the project after it found the system had taught itself to prefer male candidates over females.

Amazon was forced to shut down an experimental hiring tool after it was found to discriminate against female candidates. The tool used AI to give candidates scores ranging from one to five

HOW IT WORKED

Amazon had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants' resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent

The experimental hiring tool used artificial intelligence to give job candidates scores ranging from one to five stars - much like shoppers rate products on Amazon.

However, by 2015 the company realized its new system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way.

That is because Amazon's computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period.

Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry.

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The experimental hiring tool used artificial intelligence to give job candidates scores ranging from one to five stars - much like shoppers rate products on Amazon, some of the people said.

Automation has been key to Amazon's e-commerce dominance, be it inside warehouses or driving pricing decisions.

'Everyone wanted this holy grail,' one of the people said. 'They literally wanted it to be an engine where I'm going to give you 100 resumes, it will spit out the top five, and we'll hire those.'

But by 2015, the company realized its new system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way.

That is because Amazon's computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period.

(Video) Amazon scraps AI recruiting tool showing bias against women

Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry.

In effect, Amazon's system taught itself that male candidates were preferable. It penalized resumes that included the word 'women's,' as in 'women's chess club captain.'

And it downgraded graduates of two all-women's colleges, according to people familiar with the matter.

They did not specify the names of the schools.

Amazon edited the programs to make them neutral to these particular terms. But that was no guarantee that the machines would not devise other ways of sorting candidates that could prove discriminatory, the people said.

The Seattle company ultimately disbanded the team by the start of last year because executives lost hope for the project, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Amazon declined to comment on the recruiting engine, but says it is committed to workplace diversity and equality. The issue offers a case study into the limitations of machine learning

Amazon's recruiters looked at the recommendations generated by the tool when searching for new hires, but never relied solely on those rankings, they said.

Amazon declined to comment on the recruiting engine or its challenges, but the company says it is committed to workplace diversity and equality.

The company's experiment, which Reuters is first to report, offers a case study in the limitations of machine learning.

Some 55 percent of U.S. human resources managers said artificial intelligence, or AI, would be a regular part of their work within the next five years, according to a 2017 survey by talent software firm CareerBuilder.

Employers have long dreamed of harnessing technology to widen the hiring net and reduce reliance on subjective opinions of human recruiters.

But computer scientists such as Nihar Shah, who teaches machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University, say there is still much work to do.

'How to ensure that the algorithm is fair, how to make sure the algorithm is really interpretable and explainable - that's still quite far off,' he said.

(Video) Amazon Case study | How Amazon Failed ? | Gender Equality | AI in recruitment | HR case Study

Amazon's experiment began at a pivotal moment for the world's largest online retailer.

Machine learning was gaining traction in the technology world, thanks to a surge in low-cost computing power.

And Amazon's Human Resources department was about to embark on a hiring spree: Since June 2015, the company's global headcount has more than tripled to 575,700 workers, regulatory filings show.

AMAZON'S WAGES ROW

Amazon has come under fire after it said it would scrap bonuses and stock handouts for its workers.

The move came after Amazon said it would raise minimum wage for its workers from $10 per hour to $15.

At the moment, workers are given a single Amazon share worth almost $2,000 when they join and an additional share for every year they work, The Guardian reports.

If they hold on to the shares for two years, they can cash them in tax free.

This scheme will be now phased out in favor of a sharesave scheme which will allow workers to buy shares at a discounted rate.

Worker's unions said the average employee will have half of their pay rise wiped out by the changes, but some workers have said they will actually be worse off

Workers who had been waiting for their 2020 or 2021 stocks to be unlocked will have to buy them.

Meanwhile bonuses which allow staff to earn back 8 per cent of their salary per month - and 16 per cent in busy periods around Christmas - for hitting performance targets are also being scrapped.

Many have taken to Twitter to express their fury over the decision.

One user, going by the name Splitwig, wrote: 'I have many family members who work at Amazon and they lost a lot yesterday.

'They were already on $15 or above (most are at their facility), but lost all incentive and stock programs. They'll make $3-6k less per year now.'

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(Video) Fair and Explainable AI

So it set up a team in Amazon's Edinburgh engineering hub that grew to around a dozen people.

Their goal was to develop AI that could rapidly crawl the web and spot candidates worth recruiting, the people familiar with the matter said. The group created 500 computer models focused on specific job functions and locations.

They taught each to recognize some 50,000 terms that showed up on past candidates' resumes.

The algorithms learned to assign little significance to skills that were common across IT applicants, such as the ability to write various computer codes, the people said.

Instead, the technology favored candidates who described themselves using verbs more commonly found on male engineers' resumes, such as 'executed' and 'captured,' one person said.

Gender bias was not the only issue.

Problems with the data that underpinned the models' judgments meant that unqualified candidates were often recommended for all manner of jobs, the people said.

Pictured is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon ultimately ended its AI job candidate system

With the technology returning results almost at random, Amazon shut down the project, they said.

Other companies are forging ahead, underscoring the eagerness of employers to harness AI for hiring.

Kevin Parker, chief executive of HireVue, a startup near Salt Lake City, said automation is helping firms look beyond the same recruiting networks upon which they have long relied.

His firm analyzes candidates' speech and facial expressions in video interviews to reduce reliance on resumes.

'You weren´t going back to the same old places; you weren´t going back to just Ivy League schools,' Parker said.

Microsoft's LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network, has gone further. It offers employers algorithmic rankings of candidates based on their fit for job postings on its site.

Still, John Jersin, vice president of LinkedIn Talent Solutions, said the service is not a replacement for traditional recruiters.

'I certainly would not trust any AI system today to make a hiring decision on its own,' he said. 'The technology is just not ready yet.'

Some activists say they are concerned about transparency in AI.The American Civil Liberties Union is currently challenging a law that allows criminal prosecution of researchers and journalists who test hiring websites' algorithms for discrimination.

HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCES LEARN USING NEURAL NETWORKS

AI systems rely on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which try to simulate the way the brain works in order to learn.

ANNs can be trained to recognise patterns in information - including speech, text data, or visual images - and are the basis for a large number of the developments in AI over recent years.

Conventional AI uses input to 'teach' an algorithm about a particular subject by feeding it massive amounts of information.

AI systems rely on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which try to simulate the way the brain works in order to learn. ANNs can be trained to recognise patterns in information - including speech, text data, or visual images

Practical applications include Google's language translation services, Facebook's facial recognition software and Snapchat's image altering live filters.

The process of inputting this data can be extremely time consuming, and is limited to one type of knowledge.

A new breed of ANNs called Adversarial Neural Networks pits the wits of two AI bots against each other, which allows them to learn from each other.

This approach is designed to speed up the process of learning, as well as refining the output created by AI systems.

(Video) How AI is Deciding Who Gets Hired

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'We are increasingly focusing on algorithmic fairness as an issue,' said Rachel Goodman, a staff attorney with the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU.

Still, Goodman and other critics of AI acknowledged it could be exceedingly difficult to sue an employer over automated hiring: Job candidates might never know it was being used.

As for Amazon, the company managed to salvage some of what it learned from its failed AI experiment.

It now uses a 'much-watered down version' of the recruiting engine to help with some rudimentary chores, including culling duplicate candidate profiles from databases, one of the people familiar with the project said.

Another said a new team in Edinburgh has been formed to give automated employment screening another try, this time with a focus on diversity.

FAQs

What was never used by Amazon recruiters to evaluate candidates? ›

Amazon said in a statement that its hiring tool "was never used by Amazon recruiters to evaluate candidates." A source told Reuters that Amazon recruiters looked its recommendations, but they never solely relied on it for actual decision-making.

What is a likely disadvantage of using AI in recruitment? ›

Con: May Be Less Accurate. AI can only function when you feed it data, so if you have bad or insufficient data, your AI may not be accurate enough for your recruiting process. There are still some relatively new areas of AI, and you may have a few errors from time to time.

What company abandoned the use of AI for resume reading? ›

Now abandoned, the project shows the risks of training artificial intelligence on biased data.

What is the AI behind Amazon? ›

Alexa-based voice shopping

Amazon is one of the first companies to foray into ML with the AI bot Alexa. The voice-powered virtual assistant, for instance, allows customers to find and purchase products on mobile and walk through the checkout with voice prompts instead of clicking or tapping on the screen.

Why are Amazon interviews so tough? ›

Another reason why it's difficult to land an offer with Amazon is that its behavioral interview is quite challenging. Engineers applying to positions across the board go through a mandatory behavioral interview where they're assessed on a bunch of behavioral aspects.

What recruitment methods does Amazon use? ›

Amazon's recruitment process consists of six main parts: resume screening, phone screening, hiring manager interview, writing test, loop interviews, and hiring committee reviews.

What are the key dangers of AI? ›

Risks of Artificial Intelligence
  • Automation-spurred job loss.
  • Privacy violations.
  • 'Deepfakes'
  • Algorithmic bias caused by bad data.
  • Socioeconomic inequality.
  • Market volatility.
  • Weapons automatization.
6 Jul 2021

Why did musk leave open AI? ›

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk decided to exit OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group, over disagreements about the company's development, Tesla Inc.'s chief executive officer said in a twitter post.

Is AI a job killer or job creator? ›

Artificial intelligence is going to create massive new industries in the near future as it offers tremendous opportunities for automation and digital transformation. Seeing the above facts & figures, it can be said that AI is both a job killer and a job creator.

What jobs will never be replaced by AI? ›

Psychologists, caregivers, most engineers, human resource managers, marketing strategists, and lawyers are some roles that cannot be replaced by AI anytime in the near future”.

What AI company is Bezos investing in? ›

The Craftory, which describes itself as an “Investment House that has grown tired of phoney brands that waste our time and the planet's resources”, has invested $30 million in Chilean vegan startup "NotCo" - a company which uses Artificial Intelligence to create plantbased food formulas.

Who was the brains behind AWS? ›

Andy Jassy, brains behind AWS, to take over as Amazon CEO.

What is Amazon's flywheel? ›

The Amazon Flywheel or Amazon Virtuous Cycle is a strategy that leverages on customer experience to drive traffic to the platform and third-party sellers. That improves the selections of goods, and Amazon further improves its cost structure so it can decrease prices which spins the flywheel.

How do you know if an Amazon interview went well? ›

You know you are doing well when an Amazon interview feels like a conversation. Aim to be brief and to the point – concise enough to exclude unnecessary or unrelated details, but offer enough to the interviewer to demonstrate that the story is real and that you have an eye for detail.

How long does it take Amazon to make an offer after interview? ›

Hiring Meeting

After your interviews, the people you met with will gather in one room to discuss whether or not you should be hired. Usually, you'll find out the outcome within a week of finishing the final interviews.

Is it easy to crack interview for Amazon? ›

Amazon interviews can be grueling. But preparing for the types of interview questions asked at an Amazon tech interview can make your interview a lot easier. Questions on Amazon's 16 leadership principles, behavioral skills, coding, and system design are asked. You'll also face some job- and company-specific questions.

What is the Amazon hiring loop? ›

A phone interview, an on-site or virtual interview, and final round interviews, also called “Loop” interviews. Throughout your interview process at Amazon, interviewers will ask you questions about your experience, your skills, and your Amazon leadership principle preferences.

Which motivational theory is used by Amazon? ›

The two-factor theory of motivation (also known as Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory or dual-factor theory) states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction.

Does Amazon use internal recruitment? ›

“What we are doing is probably hiring and transferring more people internally in the last six months, so the net hiring hasn't been driven by external hiring, it's been more by internal transfers and re-leveling in some areas and seeing where we maybe need to add back,” Olsavsky said.

What is unethical about AI? ›

But there are many ethical challenges: Lack of transparency of AI tools: AI decisions are not always intelligible to humans. AI is not neutral: AI-based decisions are susceptible to inaccuracies, discriminatory outcomes, embedded or inserted bias. Surveillance practices for data gathering and privacy of court users.

Is AI a threat to human? ›

Change the jobs humans do/job automation: AI will change the workplace and the jobs that humans do. Some jobs will be lost to AI technology, so humans will need to embrace the change and find new activities that will provide them the social and mental benefits their job provided.

Is Siri an AI? ›

Siri is Apple's personal assistant for iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS devices that uses voice recognition and is powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

How is AI harmful to society? ›

Unemployment—Loss of Jobs to Machines

One of the main concerns of society is that with the rise of artificial intelligence, many jobs that are characterized by a sort of routine, will get automated. The more jobs that get automated, the more people will have to leave their jobs.

Can AI be held criminally liable? ›

If any entity, be it human, corporation or Artificial Intelligence Entity, satisfies these two elements, then any such entity could be made liable under criminal law. ' In the first possible situation, the AI entity is presumed to be an innocent agent working according to the instructions of the user.

How do I stop AI taking over? ›

The best and most direct way to control AI is to ensure that its values are our values. By building human values into AI, we ensure that everything an AI does meets with our approval. But this is not simple.

Why should we be afraid of AI? ›

1. The machines are going to become more intelligent than humans and will band together to destroy us. 2. When put into the wrong hands, artificial intelligence can be used for evil purposes that we will be powerless to defeat.

Why do people fear AI? ›

Humans are territorial in nature, meaning we like to feel in control in order to feel safe. If something is unknown to us, and therefore outside of our control, like AI, then we fear it.

Who is the founder of artificial intelligence? ›

Stanford's John McCarthy, seminal figure of artificial intelligence, dies at 84. McCarthy created the term "artificial intelligence" and was a towering figure in computer science at Stanford most of his professional life.

Who is Elon Musk's IQ? ›

IQ 155. Elon Musk IQ, which is reported to be 155 IQ, is one of the most intriguing aspects because there is no official evidence proving the precise amount.

Did Tony make an AI of himself? ›

This A.I. of Tony Stark was created by the super-genius inventor himself as a backup in case his body no longer worked, so his essence could be preserved. A device containing the A.I. Stark was shipped to Riri Williams, a child prodigy who had caught Stark's attention, so the A.I.

Why is Elon Musk scared of AI? ›

As AI gets probably much smarter than humans, the relative intelligence ratio is probably similar to that between a person and a cat, maybe bigger,” Musk told Swisher. “I do think we need to be very careful about the advancement of AI.”

What jobs Will AI take away? ›

7. 12 jobs that robots will replace in the future
  • Customer service executives. Customer service executives don't require a high level of social or emotional intelligence to perform. ...
  • Bookkeeping and data entry. ...
  • Receptionists. ...
  • Proofreading. ...
  • Manufacturing and pharmaceutical work. ...
  • Retail services. ...
  • Courier services. ...
  • Doctors.
5 Oct 2021

Will people lose jobs because of AI? ›

Worldwide, a billion people could lose their jobs over the next ten years due to AI, and 375 million jobs are at risk of obsolescence from AI automation.
...
Group% Who Think It's Unlikely that Robots and Computers Will Do Much of the Work Done by Humans
lt; $30,000 annual income27%
5 more rows
12 Oct 2021

Is AI a stressful job? ›

The database administrator is one of the most-hated AI jobs as it is extremely stressful and one mistake can provide a serious consequence in a company. Any kind of emergency situation related to the database in the existing system, this AI professional should attend, even at the cost of personal life.

What jobs do you think will be most in demand by 2030 and why? ›

15 Jobs You'll Be Recruiting for in 2030
  • Organ creator. ...
  • Augmented-reality journey builder. ...
  • Metaverse planner. ...
  • Biofilm installer. ...
  • Earthquake forecaster. ...
  • Makeshift structure engineer. ...
  • Algorithm bias auditor. ...
  • Rewilder.

Which jobs are already replaced by robots? ›

The following is a list of jobs that are being replaced or have been replaced by robots and computers.
  • Assembly-line and factory workers. ...
  • Bus drivers, taxi drivers, and truck drivers. ...
  • Phone operators, telemarketers, and receptionists. ...
  • Data entry work. ...
  • Cashiers. ...
  • Bank tellers and clerks. ...
  • Prescription.

Why can't AI replace human jobs? ›

AI-based machines don't have emotional intellect.

Businesses can not replace all their customer service with AI. People want to have personal interactions as robots are not able to show empathy and feelings to customers. Thus, without personal interaction businesses can end up losing customers.

Which is the most powerful AI company? ›

Top 10 artificial intelligence companies in 2022
  1. 1 - Amazon Web Services.
  2. 2 - IBM. ...
  3. 3 - C3.ai. ...
  4. 4 - DeepMind. ...
  5. 5 - Metaverse Platforms. ...
  6. 6 - H2O.ai. ...
  7. 7 - Dataiku. ...
  8. 8 - SenseTime. ...
20 Sept 2022

What is the name of Amazon's AI? ›

Amazon Alexa, also known simply as Alexa, is a virtual assistant technology largely based on a Polish speech synthesiser named Ivona, bought by Amazon in 2013.

What AI Tech does Amazon use? ›

Alexa-based voice shopping

Amazon is one of the first companies to foray into ML with the AI bot Alexa. The voice-powered virtual assistant, for instance, allows customers to find and purchase products on mobile and walk through the checkout with voice prompts instead of clicking or tapping on the screen.

Does the FBI use AWS? ›

Similarly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also made significant use of AWS for its investigative efforts. However, it should be noted that the DoD and FBI are not the only government agencies that have made significant use of AWS.

What is octopus in AWS? ›

Octopus offers a central platform to manage your AWS resources, including account credentials, ECS clusters, certificates, configuration, and scripts. The ECS deployment target and steps integrate with other Octopus features, including built-in AWS service accounts, runbooks, variables, channels, and lifecycles.

What was the biggest challenge working with AWS? ›

We have worked with many clients to help reduce or control their AWS cloud costs.
...
The 5 Biggest Challenges in AWS Cloud Cost Management
  • Oversizing.
  • Software Inefficiency.
  • Inelasticity.
  • Sub-Optimal Architecture.
  • Forecasting Complexity.
18 Jun 2018

What is Gazelle Project Amazon? ›

The Gazelle Project was the name of Amazon's relationship between smaller book sellers during the 2000's, when Amazon would compel publishers to give the online retailer lower discounts by threatening to make publishers' books more expensive or making the books more difficult to find with Amazon's search function.

What is lucid Amazon? ›

As a certified Amazon Advertising measurement partner, Lucid is able to offer enhanced tracking and measurement on Amazon Advertising campaigns.

What is Amazon arrow? ›

Amazon. When one initially looks at Amazon logo the arrow at the bottom seems like a smiley face, but it is more than that. The arrow is pointed from a to the z; representing the fact that Amazon offers sheer variety of products for sale. And the smiley depicts customer's satisfaction.

What tools do recruiters use to find candidates? ›

Whether they work for an agency or a company, most recruiters use a combination of these techniques to find candidates:
  • Job boards and career sites. ...
  • LinkedIn. ...
  • Applicant tracking systems. ...
  • Networking events. ...
  • Employee referrals.
30 Jun 2017

Does Amazon use applicant tracking system? ›

Amazon, like many large companies, uses an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

What is Amazon talent assessment? ›

The Amazon Work Style assessment is a personality test that evaluates your work preferences and qualities to determine your suitability to Amazon's unique culture. In most cases, this test comes before or after other Amazon online assessments, and you'll rarely receive it as a single exam.

What does a Sourcing Recruiter do at Amazon? ›

Recruiter (Sourcing Recruiter) works on a team of sourcers focusing on talent within WW Operations HR. They will contribute to a collaborative talent acquisition environment to ensure efficient talent pipeline delivery to internal HR customers.

What is the most popular recruitment tool? ›

Top 10 tools for recruiters
  • Job boards. Job boards or job search engines like Indeed provide an essential service that connects businesses with applicants. ...
  • Premade assessments. ...
  • Chatbots. ...
  • Interviewing software. ...
  • Applicant tracking systems. ...
  • CRMs. ...
  • Mobile applications. ...
  • Augmented writing software.

What platform do recruiters use the most? ›

The best recruitment platforms of 2022 in full:
  1. Zoho Recruit. Loads of great features and the ability to work alongside Zoho's wider HR products. ...
  2. Freshteam. A top-notch recruitment product from a broad family of HR software. ...
  3. LinkedIn. ...
  4. ZipRecruiter. ...
  5. Indeed. ...
  6. Greenhouse. ...
  7. Glassdoor. ...
  8. Workable.
6 Oct 2022

What are the 4 hiring tools for gathering information about applicants? ›

Types of Recruitment Tools
  • Job Aggregators. These are the tools that act as a job board. ...
  • Testing & Assessment. These tools are used to assess a candidate's ability in the hiring process. ...
  • AI and Automation. ...
  • Applicant Tracking System. ...
  • Recruitment CRM. ...
  • Video Interviewing.
7 Sept 2022

How do you beat applicant tracking system? ›

How to Beat an Applicant Tracking System
  1. Use the keywords from the job description. ...
  2. Edit your resumé to fit the job you're applying for. ...
  3. Don't apply for too many roles in the same company. ...
  4. Make your resumé simple and clear. ...
  5. Follow instructions.
19 Apr 2022

Do Amazon recruiters call reject? ›

Some recruiters reject by email, but some do it by phone, especially if they care about giving you a good impression about the company. I think most people who did well enough to get to the next stage of the process would get a phone call. But it can go either way, so you just have to wait and see.

How do I get past the ATS? ›

Best practices for getting your resume through an applicant tracking system
  1. Only apply for jobs you qualify for.
  2. Be selective about the jobs you apply for at one company.
  3. Use relevant keywords.
  4. Connect your keywords to unique experiences.
  5. Include a skills section.
  6. Use basic language.
  7. Write out acronyms.

Can you fail Amazon Assessment test? ›

Yes, you can fail the Amazon assessment test. In many cases, the assessment is the initial screening step, or it comes right after a phone interview. So, failing the assessment means that your application is terminated, and you'll be able to re-apply after a given time that varies across positions.

What disqualifies you from being hired at Amazon? ›

This means the company considers the details of each applicant, including their criminal history, and other details, like work experience and references. Certain types of criminal convictions might make it difficult to get hired at Amazon — including sexual abuse, murder, theft, and drug charges.

Is Amazon aptitude test hard? ›

The test will also determine if you can complete these tasks efficiently (time) and accurately. Amazon's numerical reasoning test is difficult – not because of the knowledge tested, but because of the time pressure and stress.

How much does a recruiter earn at Amazon? ›

$103,046. The estimated total pay for a Recruiter at Amazon is $103,046 per year. This number represents the median, which is the midpoint of the ranges from our proprietary Total Pay Estimate model and based on salaries collected from our users. The estimated base pay is $63,052 per year.

Does Amazon recruiter negotiate salary? ›

Compensation Bands

Recruiters are instructed to negotiate the best deal for the company, but they also want to win top talent: you. This means they do not always delve out the maximum amount in their initial offer, but are usually open to negotiation.

Is it hard to get hired at Amazon? ›

No, it is not hard to get a job at Amazon.

Depending on the position, getting a job at Amazon is relatively easy due to the thousands of job openings at any given time. This is especially the case if you are applying for a position working at the fulfillment center or a delivery position.

Videos

1. Technically Wrong with Sara Wachter-Boettcher
(University of Delaware)
2. 7: Using Artificial Intelligence for Recruitment
(InnerView - The Recruitment Podcast)
3. Will Artificial Intelligence Be Biased Against Women?
(Women in the World)
4. Reducing bias in the hiring process | with Annie Boneta
(SocialTalent)
5. How to disrupt the Recruitment Industry using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence
(Zoe Turner)
6. Algorithmic Bias
(Oxford Law Faculty)
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