Amazon abandons AI recruiting tool as it discriminated against women

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Amazon has abandoned a trial project using an AI recruiting tool because it showed bias against women.

Reuters reports that sources claimed an Amazon team had been building computer programmes since 2014 to review job applicants’ CVs in a bid to mechanise the search for top talent.

The experimental recruitment tool used AI to award candidates scores ranging from one to five stars, according to the sources.

However, in 2015 it emerged the new system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical roles in a gender-neutral way as computer models were trained to assess candidates on patterns in CVs submitted over a 10-year period. 

As most of these CVs came from men, the system taught itself to prefer male candidates.

While Amazon adapted the programs in a bid to make them neutral, this did not guarantee that the machines would come up with other ways of sorting candidates that could prove discriminatory, with Amazon disbanding the team by the start of last year as executives lost hope for the project, the sources said.

Recruiter understands the project was only ever used in a trial/developmental phase and was never rolled out to a larger group, while the project was abandoned for many reasons, including the fact it never returned strong candidates for the roles.

And in a statement an Amazon spokesperson said the tool was never used by Amazon recruiters to evaluate candidates.

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