Artificial Intelligence in HR: What You Need to Know

No, robots aren’t taking over the world any time soon. But artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a part of HR data collection and analysis - and the more you know about it, the less "Matrix" it will feel.

4-27-Artifical-Intelligence.jpgWhat is artificial intelligence?

According to John McCarthy, one of the founding fathers of the discipline, artificial intelligence is “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.” In other words, artificial intelligence is the science of creating computers that think. Smart cars, Siri, Google search suggestions…these are all examples of AI.

How can artificial intelligence be used in HR?

Evaluate huge amounts of data

HR departments are king when comes to collecting huge amounts of complex data. What should we do with the data? This is where artificial intelligence steps in. Using advanced algorithms, AI can sift through that information quickly and accurately. Processing power can facilitate “faster decisions at the right times,” accelerate an organization’s processes, identify workplace trends, and disseminate information quickly.

Create a more diverse workforce

One thing that’s wrong with human brains? We’re all impacted by our biases. Prior experiences, cultural norms, and personal preference can all color how we deal with situations – and this can be a bad thing, especially in the effort to create a diverse workforce. Companies like Hilton Worldwide and GE are already using hiring algorithms to remove that human bias from its interviews.

Hire for soft skills

Artificial intelligence is a godsend for hiring, especially when it comes to the soft skills that every potential employee puts on his or her resume. Empathetic, team-player, friendly…we’ve all seen it, but before AI, there was no way to evaluate if someone actually possessed those skills. Many companies, such as Instacart and IBM, are using “computerized analysis to identify speech patterns among, for example, empathetic individuals.” Also known as natural language processing (NLP,) the programs may be present in the actual interview, or require a separate “audition” with the program.

Eliminate repetitive tasks

Machines are great at doing the same task over and over again: they never get bored, they never get tired, and they aren’t looking for engaging work. Human employees, on the other hand, get bored, tired, and disengaged very easily. The more of these repetitive tasks you can take off an employee’s plate, the more your employee can dive into more thoughtful, engaging work. In fact, a 2013 Oxford study predicted that “47 percent of repetitive jobs would be handled exclusively by machines over the next two decades.”

Monitor employee actions

Though the debate over employers monitoring social media wages on, AI continues to get better at doing just that. If you’re in the yes camp on the issue, this means programs can monitor social media history, search news and blog coverage, and keep tabs on internet use.

Artificial Intelligence: An Ethical Gray Area

Experts go back and forth on the use of artificial intelligence, especially in HR. What do you think? Share your opinions on these questions in the comments below!

  • Should AI be trusted to make value decisions and moral judgments?
  • What privacy rights should an employee or potential employee have?
  • Does hiring for an algorithmically correct employee homogenize the workforce?
  • Will AI always need human supervision? At what point do human technicians become obsolete?


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