Amazon eliminated machine learning tool

Oct

10

2018

Reuters: for applications for discrimination
According to anonymous sources of news agency Reuters, internet giant Amazon has removed a self-developed machine learning tool for assessing applications, after it appeared that it had a bias against women’s filings.

Five anonymous sources tell the news agency that Amazon started in 2014 to develop software for the automatic assessment of applications. One of these sources says: “They literally wanted it to be an engine that analyzed a hundred applications and produced the best five, after which these people were hired.” In 2015, the company would have found that this was not done in a neutral way, but that the system favored applications from men. According to Reuters this had to do with the fact that the tool had been trained on data collected over a ten-year period, with most applications coming from men.

In this way, the system trained itself to prefer male applicants to female and gave negative scores to resumes containing the word “women,” as in “leader of the chess team for women,” according to Reuters. It would also have given candidates who were from two universities a lower score for women only. The assessed CVs with words that are more often used on men’s CVs are higher.

An attempt to make the system more neutral was ultimately not enough, because Amazon eventually decided to cancel the twelve-member team that worked on the software. The decision also played a part that the system was not working in other respects, so it also carried non-qualified persons for a large number of positions.

According to Reuters sources, applicants were never assessed solely on the basis of the tool, but were used as an aid. Amazon did not want to respond to questions from the news agency and only said it stands for diversity and equality in the workplace. Tweakers has previously paid attention to bias in artificial intelligence in a more extensive article .

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