AI Hiring – Spotlight #401

1. Good Monday Morning

It’s Oct. 18th. The Olympic flame is scheduled to be lighted today at 4 a.m. The flame will make its way to Beijing where the Winter Games start February 4. You can watch the ceremony at the official Olympics site.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,504 words — about a 5 minute read.

2. News To Know Now

Quoted:”Facebook puts users in a near-impossible position by telling them they can’t post about dangerous groups and individuals, but then refusing to publicly identify who it considers dangerous.” — Brennan Center for Justice executive Faiza Patel, to The Intercept when it published the full contents of Facebook’s Dangerous Individuals and Organization’s List.

a) Amazon’s private brand program used proprietary sales and returns information to copy successful products, according to a Reuters expose.The copied products were then reportedly shown in favored positions during customer searches. Called the Solimo Project, the program now offers dozens of private label Amazon products in multiple countries. Amazon testified to Congress two years ago that they do not use this data or favor their products in search. Then-CEO Jeff Bezos confirmed that behavior was prohibited in Congressional testimony last year.

b) Amazon’s very bad week continued when word came of a nearly $200 million class action suit filed by delivery drivers in the UK. The argument is familiar — contractor vs. employee -—and the lead firm for the plaintiff won a similar case in the UK against Uber earlier this year.

Still more Amazon: Corporate and technology employees at Amazon will be permitted to work remotely indefinitely as long as they can reasonably commute to their physical office as needed. Others on permanent work from home status include Square, PwC, and Salesforce. Fast Company cites research that claims nearly half of workers would work an additional 10 hours per week or accept reduced benefits to be allowed to worked remotely.

c) Even before U.S. government experts reported shock this weekend at Chinese advances in hypersonic missile technology, the Air Force’s former Chief Software Officer told The Financial Times that the U.S. would be unable to compete with Chinese cyber technology in 15-20 years. His claim was countered by Army CIO Raj Iyer, who also conceded that the Chinese government excels in “the actual use of AI.”

Separately, LinkedIn announced that compliance requirements and a “more challenging” operating environment led the company to close its site in China. The company was under fire from members  whose profiles it had blocked to appease Chinese government demands.

3. Search Engine News — Google Updates Title Link and Heading Guidance

Two months after Google began arbitrarily changing the titles of webpages in its search engine results, Google has updated its best practice guidance on writing what it now calls “title links.” The company has renamed this element because the “title tag” name used for decades is part of a broad international coalition that Google doesn’t control so technically the company is telling you how to handle your title tags so that it doesn’t change the information when it publishes its own title links.


Here is what to know:

  • Don’t repeat yourself or use boilerplate (best locksmith in Atlanta, best locksmith in North Atlanta, etc.).
  • Branding should come first. This is a big change for SEO watchers, but Google specifically suggests concise branding appear first although it acknowledges beginning or end is acceptable.
  • Don’t use words like “video” unless there is actually a video on the page.
  • Keep things short.

Google says that it uses these sources to automatically create title links: the main visual and heading elements, prominent content especially when it is styled larger, anchor text on the page, text within links that point to the page.

One interesting comment: Google credits its machine learning software with the automation of this function and says that it can detect when a page’s content doesn’t match its title tag.

An example: A piece written for a 2021 policy that still has a 2020 title tag.

Later in the week, Google search exec John Mueller also suggested using product or brand names on headings within the document. It was here that he suggested that “Widget-color” might be acceptable provided that the content under that heading addressed the widget and the color.

4. Spotlight Explainer — AI Hiring

What exactly do you mean by “AI Hiring?”

Artificial intelligence has become a buzzy catchall for what is most accurately described as machine learning. That’s the process of giving a computer many (millions or more) examples so that the software can assess whether something new is a good match. 

Consider labeling pictures of flowers for that software. After uploading hundreds of thousands of flower images, you upload an unlabeled image and ask the software if it’s a flower. That’s a simplistic view of resume sorting. 

And just like a website’s automated help function can help you track a package or request a refund, an AI hiring chatbot can also make interview appointments or answer an applicant’s questions.

So how widespread is AI hiring or screening?

75% according to a Harvard and Accenture study (PDF).

Does it save money?

Yes, the original screening by computer versus person is always going to save money initially, but the real question to ask is which one does it better in the long run and do you honestly save money or do employee hours get replaced with something less productive. 

One of that study’s key findings is that the software training has caused huge pools of qualified applicants to be overlooked. Harvard calls them “hidden workers” and suggests that up to 27 million Americans could be negatively affected. And it’s not a homogenous group either: it’s a big mix that includes military veterans, caregivers, and immigrants.

How does AI hiring hide people?

Remember that the software only does what you tell it. Unorthodox breaks in an employment history are a big culprit. So are a lack of traditional qualifications. Screening with a rigid set of rules and using negative instead of affirmative filtering also creates problems.

What’s the problem with applicants who have a disability?

MIT Technology Review summarized a disability policy analyst’s experience with a game by software maker Pymetrics that tests nine soft skills. Like all good technology, the game asked if the applicant wanted to use a modified version for color blindness, ADHD, or dyslexia. It’s a benign request that ultimately forces someone with a disability to choose between disclosing their condition or facing a test that discriminates against them.

Resume writing for AI hiring screens.

Use simple, short, declarative sentences, but keep a regular resume for human readers. Remember to test your resume with an inexpensive automated tool like VMock.

Here are 7 more tips to help you land that job.

5. Did That Really Happen? — Conspiracy Theories Come from the IRS

There are multiple memes and posts all over social media falsely complaining that the IRS is monitoring all bank transactions over $600. What actually happened is that accounts with transaction levels under $600 in a calendar year or that contain a balance under $600 will now be exempt from bank reporting of interest paid. The IRS is not monitoring transactions at the individual bank account level.

6. Following Up — A New GPT-3 Challenge from Megatron

We’ve written a lot about OpenAI’s GPT-3 model that uses 175 billion parameters to create functions like auto-completing sentences and even new sentence creation among other things. You may remember that some executives didn’t want to release GPT-3 at first because it was far beyond the state-of-the-art.

Now Microsoft and Nvidia have collaborated on a 530 billion parameter model that they called Megatron-Turing Natural Language Generation Model. You’re a better person than I am if you think that people will call it anything other than Megatron. I can only marvel at how many resumes it must have read.

7. Protip — How to Install Windows 11–Even Without The Update

The latest version of Windows is officially available. This step-by-step explainer walks you through upgrading your machine. 

8. Screening Room — John Lewis

A little boy diva in training rampages through his family’s house in this hysterical spot from UK insurers John Lewis. 

9. Science Fiction World — Peach Pickin’ Robots

Georgia produces close to 400 million peaches with a farm gate value of about $70 million each year. This report shows that you may know about harvesting robots, but tree pruning and thinning robots are here too.

10. Coffee Break — Nightcafe

We’ve thought a lot about AI and words today. Let’s think about AI & images. I’ve been playing with, erm, testing a free website called Nightcafe that uses machine learning to generate low resolution images from plain text.

For my text command of “a desk in a home office with a computer, microphone, camera, and coffee cup in view”, the program returned this image. I remind you that this image was (a) free and (b) created from 16 words of text. You can use Nightcafe once you sign up for a free account.

11. Sign of The Times

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