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LinkedIn’s Job-Matching AI Was Biased. The Company’s Solution? More AI

 
Originally published in MIT Technology Review, June 23, 2021.

ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn—most of the world’s biggest job search sites use AI to match people with job openings. But the algorithms don’t always play fair.

Years ago, LinkedIn discovered that the recommendation algorithms it uses to match job candidates with opportunities were producing biased results. The algorithms were ranking candidates partly on the basis of how likely they were to apply for a position or respond to a recruiter. The system wound up referring more men than women for open roles simply because men are often more aggressive at seeking out new opportunities.

LinkedIn discovered the problem and built another AI program to counteract the bias in the results of the first. Meanwhile, some of the world’s largest job search sites—including CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter, and Monster—are taking very different approaches to addressing bias on their own platforms, as we report in the newest episode of MIT Technology Review’s podcast “In Machines We Trust.” Since these platforms don’t disclose exactly how their systems work, though, it’s hard for job seekers to know how effective any of these measures are at actually preventing discrimination.

If you were to start looking for a new job today, artificial intelligence would very likely influence your search. AI can determine what postings you see on job search platforms and decide whether to pass your résumé on to a company’s recruiters. Some companies may ask you to play AI-powered video games that measure your personality traits and gauge whether you’d be a good fit for specific roles.

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