Oct 10, 2018

Report: Amazon's AI recruiter favored men

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images

An algorithmic recruiter meant to help Amazon find top talent was systematically biased against women, a Reuters investigation found.

Why it matters: This is a textbook example of algorithmic bias. By learning from and emulating human behavior, a machine ended up as prejudiced as the people it replaced.

The details: Amazon's experiment, which dates back to 2014, was trained on 10 years of job applications, most of which came from men, reports Reuters' Jeffrey Dastin.

  • The system concluded that men were better candidates for technical jobs.
  • In 2015, Amazon began to realize that the system was penalizing resumes that included the word "women’s" (as in a women’s sports team or all-women’s colleges).

The company intervened to remove the negative weights on these words, but couldn’t be certain that other, similar problems wouldn’t crop up.

  • Reuters reported that Amazon recruiters used its recommendations but didn’t rely on them entirely.
  • An Amazon spokesperson disputed this, saying, “This was never used by Amazon recruiters to evaluate candidates.”
  • The company dissolved the team in charge of the system early last year, in part because the system was not surfacing useful candidates.

What’s next: Many large companies — including Goldman Sachs and Hilton — already use AI in their recruiting process, and the list will only grow.

  • But companies are still hoping that properly trained AI can not only avoid algorithmic bias but also correct human recruiters’ prejudices.

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Schools get creative to keep students connected

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

School districts are exploring ways to keep their homebound pupils connected to the classroom, even though many students don't have the internet service or devices they need to do assignments.

Why it matters: All teachers face the problem of "summer slide" — when students lose skills during summer breaks. This year will be doubly hard because students are losing between one and three additional months of in-classroom instruction due to coronavirus-driven closures.

U.S.-led coalition in Iraq withdraws from 3rd base this month

A soldier stands guard at the Qayyarah airbase in southern Mosul on March 26. Photo: Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United States-led coalition in Iraq withdrew from K-1 Air Base in the northern part of the country on Sunday, AP reports.

Why it matters: It's the third site that coalition forces have left this month as the U.S. gathers troops in Baghdad and at Ain al-Asad Air Base.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 679,977 — Total deaths: 31,734 — Total recoveries: 145,625.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 124,686 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per CDC, those residents should "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska issues a stay-at-home order — New York tries to nearly triple hospital capacity in less than a month and moved presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's initial handling of the virus balk at call for U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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