NYC Aims to Lead in Curbing AI Hiring Tools
While proponents consider New York City AI rule a national model, AI experts and digital rights activists are worried that it doesn’t go far enough to avoid bias.
Job candidates rarely find out that their resumes and video interviews were rejected by hidden artificial intelligence tools. However, New York City residents may soon have a say in the computer-made decisions about their careers behind the scenes.
A bill passed by the city council in early November would prohibit employers from using automated hiring tools unless a yearly bias audit shows that they will not discriminate against applicants based on their race or gender.
It would also compel the creators of those AI tools to reveal more about their enigmatic workings and provide candidates with the option of selecting an alternative process — such as a human — to review their application.
On her account, Frida Polli, co-founder and CEO of New York Startup Pymetrics, which uses AI to assess job skills through game-like online assessments, said, “I believe this technology is incredibly positive but it can produce a lot of harms if there isn’t more transparency.”
Meanwhile, Alexandra Givens, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, commented by saying, “The approach of auditing for bias is a good one. The problem is New York City took a very weak and vague standard for what that looks like.”
On Nov. 10, the City Council voted 38-4 to pass the bill, giving outgoing Mayor Bill De Blasio a month to sign, veto it, or let it go into law unsigned. De Blasio's office has stated that he supports the bill but has not stated whether or not he will sign it. If passed, it would go into effect in 2023, during Mayor-elect Eric Adams' administration.