Federal Focus on Use of Artificial Intelligence in HR Increases

October 15, 2021

The White House launched an initiative to develop an “AI Bill of Rights,” with an emphasis on eliminating bias and “freedom from pervasive or discriminatory” workplace monitoring.  A House Financial Services Committee hearing this week also included discussions on AI used in the HR context.

AI Bill of Rights:  The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched an initiative to create a “bill of rights to guard against the powerful technologies we have created.”  In an op-ed, OSTP Director Eric Lander and Deputy Director Alondra Nelson noted such right would likely include notification requirements, protections against bias, “freedom from pervasive or discriminatory surveillance and monitoring in your… workplace; and your right to meaningful recourse if the use of an algorithm harms you.”  The initiative was kicked off with an RFI on the use of biometric technologies

In congressional hearing, use of AI in HR scrutinized:  Miriam Vogel, President and CEO, EqualAI, said that “AI used for hiring, evaluations, promotions and terminations could be infused with bias and as such, must be checked—and constantly rechecked—for harmful biases given the likelihood it will constantly learn new patterns and may offer inequitable employment decisions.” 

Hearing not all doom and gloom:  In discussion of the potential for bias in the use of AI and the need to hold its use to a high standard, House Financial Task Force on Artificial Intelligence Chairman Bill Foster (D-IL) noted recent reports of fintech apps being more effective than human-based banks in issuing PPP loans to minority customers.

Outlook:  The rise of remote work has encouraged greater attention to electronic worker monitoring and bias, particularly in recruiting, hiring, and promotion decisions. We can expect greater attention from federal policymakers on artificial intelligence, with a focus area being its use in the employment lifecycle. On December 1st, HR Policy’s Future Workplace Policy Council will host a discussion with EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling to discuss the use of AI in the workplace and the attending legal and compliance issues.