AI recruitment tool pulled by Amazon for sex bias

Recruitment software was not favourable towards women

Brain, network, network intelligence, AI, computing, connected, artificial intelligence, machine learning

Amazon has been forced to scrap an artificial intelligence system used by the company for recruitment after it was found the technology was biased against female applicants.

The AI tech was first developed at Amazon in 2014 as a way of quickly filtering out most candidates and providing the firm with the top five people. However, by 2015, it was realised that the system was not rating applicants in a gender-neutral way.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The problem lay in how the system was trained. It was fed CVs to detect patterns in recruiting over a 10-year period. Most of the applications came from men. According to a report from Reuters, the system taught itself that male candidates were preferable to women. It downgraded CVs if found words such as "women's" and penalised graduates of all-female colleges.

While Amazon recoded the software to make the AI neutral to these terms, this did not guarantee that the technology would find other methods of being discriminatory against women, the report said.

The team, set up in Amazon's Edinburgh engineering hub, created 500 models concentrated on detailed job functions and locations. The system was also taught to recognise around 50,000 terms that showed up on past candidates' CVs.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The technology learned to assign little importance to skills common across IT applicants, favouring terms more commonly found on male engineers' resumes, such as "executed" and "captured," the report said.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The model used in the AI system had other problems that led to unqualified candidates being recommended for a variety of unsuitable jobs.

This eventually led to Amazon pulling the plug on the team as executives "lost hope" over the project, anonymous sources told Amazon. The tool could not be solely relied upon to sort candidates.

The firm now uses a "much-watered down version" of the recruiting engine to carry out "rudimentary chores".

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/business-strategy/31780/the-it-pro-panel
Business strategy

The IT Pro Panel

24 Feb 2020
Visit/technology/artificial-intelligence-ai/354766/mit-develops-ai-tech-to-edit-outdated-wikipedia
artificial intelligence (AI)

MIT develops AI tech to edit outdated Wikipedia articles

13 Feb 2020
Visit/technology/30736/what-is-ethical-ai
Technology

What is ethical AI?

11 Feb 2020
Visit/careers/28212/a-guide-to-cyber-security-certification-and-training
Careers & training

A guide to cyber security certification and training

13 Jan 2020

Most Popular

Visit/development/application-programming-interface-api/355192/apple-buys-dark-sky-weather-app-and-leaves
application programming interface (API)

Apple buys Dark Sky weather app and leaves Android users in the cold

1 Apr 2020
Visit/data-insights/data-management/355170/oracle-cloud-courses-are-free-during-coronavirus-lockdown
data management

Oracle cloud courses are free during coronavirus lockdown

31 Mar 2020
Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

26 Mar 2020