More and more organizations are beginning to use or expand their use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools and services in the workplace. Despite AI’s proven potential for enhancing efficiency and decision-making, it has raised a host of issues in the workplace which, in turn, have prompted an array of federal and state regulatory efforts that are likely to increase in the near future.
Artificial intelligence, defined very simply, involves machines performing tasks in a way that is intelligent. The AI field involves a number of subfields or forms of AI that solve complex problems associated with human intelligence—for example, machine learning (computers using data to make predictions), natural-language processing (computers processing and understanding a natural human language like English), and computer vision or image recognition (computers processing, identifying, and categorizing images based on their content).
One area where AI is becoming increasingly prevalent is in talent acquisition and recruiting. Many organizations have adopted machine learning-based software to auto-screen or facilitate the screening of job candidates. Additionally, AI tools are powering many of the increasingly common employee self-service tools that allow for quicker, more efficient answers to common employee relations questions.
The benefits of AI include improved efficiency, lower costs of products and services, improved quality, and fewer errors. But AI is not perfect. Indeed, government and media attention has centered on the potential for AI-driven tools to be biased or discriminatory. For example, during the Obama administration, the Executive Office of the President of the United States issued a detailed report on algorithmic systems, AI opportunity, and potential civil rights issues that highlighted the potential for positive impact from AI while underscoring issues about “the potential of encoding discrimination in automated decisions.” Similarly, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also been concerned about these issues and has emphasized assessing how employment discrimination protections apply and can be used in the context of AI-powered systems.