What happens when you program in flaws?
Who we are, how and where we were educated, our gender, sexuality, class, religion and interests all impact on decisions we make. Whether we like it or not each one of us possesses some inherent biases, expectations and prejudices. After all, life is viewed through the narrative arch all our experiences have constructed. We only have to see how big organisations such as Starbucks noted that racism affected staff's attitude to the people they were serving. We are probably not as squeaky clean as we might hope to be or think we are.
Can machine learning actually offer equality focused interviews?
Therefore it is interesting to see that recruiters in Sweden are in the middle of testing a recruitment robot that promises to be unbiased. This might well be a world first. The question for me is can machine learning actually offer equality focused interviews? Will this be more effective than a human? It’s certainly worth examining further.
The robot has a name: Tengai and it is 41cms in height. This is important because it can be placed at the same level as the candidate so they can see one another ‘eye to eye’ as it were. The robot’s face is a projected one and it can react to what candidates say when they speak through a microphone. Tangai will respond using a speaker that is attached. It will be interesting to see whether candidates feel more or less reassured when being interviewed by robot.
This digital recruiter is being rolled out by Stockholm’s Furhat Robotics.
After four years intensive development Tangai is now a robot that can copy human speech fluently and is capable of being expressive in facial expressions. As a consequence it appears far less alien than traditional looking robots.
Tangai has been developed by Furhat Robotics alongside a prestigious Swedish recruitment firm: TNG. This should mean that the robot will have picked up a wealth of objective recruitment skills. Elin Öberg Mårtenzon, Chief Innovation Officer at TNG's office in central Stockholm suggests that an interview can be almost done and dusted very quickly.
Mårtenzon, says that quite often a candidate can have made an impression within seven seconds. Therefore all the preparation can almost be for nothing if you begin on the wrong foot for some reason. Also as humans we are always looking for points of similarity like ‘do you play sport? Or do you like music?’ If people reply to something you also like we can’t help but give a positive tick; it’s how we are wired. This is an example of unconscious bias, Tengai is programmed to eradicate this and focus only on skills that would assist in the specific role.
What happens when robots interview women?
This sounds attractive, at least from a recruiters’ perspective. But can a robot really replace humans? That may well depend on the algorithms in the programming. Google did experiment with just such a thing twelve months ago but abandoned the experiment. Why? The robot felt males outperformed females. Interesting.
However, similar schemes by global tech giants such as Google have proved to be unsuccessful in the past. In 2018 Google confirmed that its AI recruitment robot was being decommissioned due to evidence that suggested that despite its equality parameters, it still favoured male candidates over females. Even Amazon hit the buffers with it’s A.I recruitment tools. Back in 2014 candidates were analysed by robot program to score people out of five. You would think that was a simple task but yet again the robot favoured men consistently
What might the solution be?
Obviously picking up integrated learning from a wide variety of sources and recruiters would be beneficial. The last thing we need is unconscious bias actually programmed in to a robot. However, next year we will see what happens in live situations. Watch this space.
However, if you cannot wait until 2020 for a robot to find your perfect executive recruitment match then do let us use our considerable skills and experience to find the very best candidates for you. We think that human flaws aside we have a great track record of finding the people you need. Why not call us today for a no obligation discussion on +44 7793 526078 or Click Here to schedule an appointment directly with me to suit you.