Artificial Intelligence - Friend or Foe?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of those terms that either confuses you, excites you, or makes your eyes glaze over. In this brief video,  Elon Musk, who has invested heavily in the technology, explains why he thinks AI should terrify you.

Whatever you may feel about AI, it is omnipresent. If you watch Netflix, use social media, search Google, bank online, shop on Amazon, regularly speak to Siri or Alexa or navigate with GPS, you are engaging with AI. This video highlights the top 10 companies using AI today.

Two professions that are increasingly being affected by AI are recruiting and legal. 

AI in Recruiting

AI significantly increases productivity in the recruitment industry by ‘crawling’ through huge amounts of data (like resumes) quickly and accurately; screening and ranking qualified candidates; scheduling interviews; and performing many other high-volume, manual tasks. AI allows recruiters to focus on more strategic tasks and spend more time really getting to know their candidates.

AI recruiting assistants (or bots) are available 24/7. The advent of natural processing language makes it possible for these bots to understand and interpret human language, including measuring feelings and identifying what’s important. Bots become increasingly responsive over time due to their machine learning capability. Machine learning allows bots to think, learn and evolve very rapidly. It’s this ability to ‘learn’ exponentially that has the potential to go very wrong (as per Elon’s fear). 

AI can minimize bias. Bias happens, despite our best intentions. While as Canadians, we generally like to think of ourselves as relatively fair and unprejudiced, this 2019 study of nine countries shows Canada tied with Britain, with minorities in these two countries 11 per cent more likely to face discrimination in hiring.

AI will help avoid hiring bias if properly programmed. AI does not get tired or distracted, or discriminate on the basis of unconscious personal beliefs and values. AI doesn’t judge age, appearance, gender or ideological beliefs. However, AI is only as good as the data and algorithms programmed so care needs to be taken in the development phase, otherwise, bias can actually be built into a system. 

Today, AI is being fully integrated into HR technology talent systems in everything from payroll to learning and development, and from coaching all the way to exiting. It also provides metrics to determine how well HR talent systems are working. 

Recruiters don’t have to worry just yet though and human beings will continue to play a key role in the industry. The experienced (human) eye of a recruiter is still required to determine the culture of an organization and to secure candidates with the right attitude, aptitude and fit. 

“Focus on augmenting people, not replacing them. Despite concerns, AI is not all about reducing labor costs, and organizations that approach the technology in this manner stand to miss out on real gains. Instead, early AI projects should focus on enabling employees to pursue higher value activities.”

- Falguni Desai, global head of strategy and transformation, equities, Credit Suisse.

AI in the Legal Profession

AI in the practice of law is relatively new and still somewhat controversial. Despite dire predictions of robo-lawyers, AI won’t replace human lawyers and legal support staff anytime soon due to the high level of emotional intelligence required in these professions. 

AI will increase efficiency and accuracy by minimizing the amount of time legal professionals spend on research and manual data entry. AI will also increase access to legal representation for those who couldn’t normally afford the cost of a lawyer. The access-to-justice paradox is that many cases are too simple for hiring a lawyer and too complex to resolve without one. When you drastically minimize the cost of significant legal research, legal representation becomes more affordable and therefore, more accessible. 

Potential applications of AI in the legal workplace go beyond research and tactical work, however. AI algorithms are capable of understanding precedents and how they have historically been treated in case law, and can even predict outcome probabilities. As AI continues to evolve, so will its applications in law.  

Regardless of industry, and in spite of the benefits, AI presents very real and significant risks such as privacy breaches; misuse for unethical or illegal ends; environmental depletion (computer chips contain rare earth metals); and of course, as per Elon’s fear, the potential for world domination. 

AI, if used ethically and with good intent, will undoubtedly benefit humankind. The question now is who or what is overseeing AI? And if intelligence enables control, what happens when artificial intelligence bypasses human intelligence?

Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you. 

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.