New York City has enacted a law to prevent discrimination against people by robots, which is to take effect Jan. 2, 2023. The City Council has enacted a law to prevent bias by “Automated Employment Decision Tools.”
According to Bloomberg News: “Employers in the city will be banned from using automated employment decision tools to screen job candidates, unless the technology has been subject to a “bias audit” conducted a year before the use of the tool.”
Is the new NYC employment law targeting the use of AI in hiring a good thing? Or….
Of course, this law is directed to regulate the use of Artificial Intelligence, a/k/a AI. The AI at issue is defined as automation that is ‘used to substantially assist or replace discretionary decision making for making employment decisions that impact natural persons.’ But the law subjects AI to ‘testing of an automated employment decision tool to assess the tool’s disparate impact on persons.’ In other words, the AI must undergo a test to ensure that it does not discriminate based on race, creed, color, gender, national origin, sexual orientation and any other category or persons protected by law.
I can see how this new tool can be helpful and harmful to people both, depending on how good the technology is and how vulnerable it is to human manipulation. A company that uses AI of this type can attempt to manipulate it to exclude certain classes of applicants from consideration, which is what the law is trying to prevent. On the other hand, if used properly, the technology can be used effectively and without the human bias we see in some employment decisions.
The law is relatively new and has not been tested in court yet. It is an intriguing idea but it also gives Big Brother even more power over people. It might streamline hiring decisions but it also can be used to hide bad or illegal conduct. We must wait to see how this new tool is used or misused before passing judgment on it.
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