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- Companies like Goldman Sachs and Unilever have used AI tools in their recruitment efforts.
- 66% of American adults don’t want to apply for a job that uses AI to hire, per a Pew Research Center study.
- Some respondents say AI-hiring may be biased and unable to understand context, though opinions vary.
Companies are using AI to make hiring decisions — and many Americans aren’t happy about that, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center.
Researchers involved in the study surveyed 11,004 Americans adults to understand how they feel about AI being used to evaluate workers.
The study found that 66% of those surveyed — equivalent to two-thirds of Americans — would not feel comfortable applying for a job at an employer that uses AI to make hiring decisions. Additionally, 71% of respondents were opposed to AI making the final hiring decision, per the study.
Companies have been using AI to help vet job applicants at varying levels of success.
In 2014, Amazon attempted to build an AI recruitment tool that automatically scans résumés for key terms, but shut it down three years later after it showed bias against women. Meanwhile, large firms like investment bank Goldman Sachs and consumer goods giant Unilever have used HireVue’s AI-software — a video analysis tool — to screen job applicant interviews during the recruitment process. Companies may also use AI applicant-tracking software to help with the hiring process.
“People are, in some ways, wary and reluctant to embrace AI,” Colleen McClain, a research associate at the Pew Research Center who co-authored the study, told Insider. Some people think “AI would lack the personal connection” needed for hiring, McClain said, citing the findings.
One respondent noted that AI can be biased.
“AI as it is usually applied today looks for specific words or qualifications that often miss the whole picture,” the survey respondent, a man in his 30s, told Pew. AI can also allow for “structural biases based on race or socioeconomic status to persist unchallenged,” he added.
Other respondents pointed out that AI can’t take into account all of the job applicants’ qualities, such as body language. AI may not be able to gather nonverbal information, a man in his 60s said, because “it only operates with the narrower parameters programmed into the AI database.”
32% of the survey respondents think using AI to hire is actually a good idea.
One respondent — a man in his 40s — actually thinks AI may be less biased that humans in certain ways, particularly when it applies to workers who don’t have a “traditional work history.”
AI may be less prejudiced, especially for older workers passed over for jobs because of their age, a woman in her 70s told Pew.
“In terms of personally wanting to apply, there’s a lot of rich kind of nuance in people’s answers,” McClain said.
It’s not just hiring. As AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT take the world by storm, companies are now more keen on adopting AI tools to help make workforce decisions.
Employers can use AI to calculate a worker’s salary, for example.Tech giants like Uber and Amazon were found to use AI to pay people different wages for the same job, according to a recent study. Veena Dubal, a professor at UC Hastings involved in the study, calls the phenomenon “algorithmic wage discrimination.”
McClain said the “public debate” over how AI will impact work has “heated up recently” given the “buzz” around new AI developments.
“Our survey shows that the public does foresee AI making a splash when it comes to impact on the workplace,” she said.