Actually Dave, I can do that. Artificial Intelligence and recruitment

As with a lot of scientific development, the advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have raised concerns as well as possibilities. It seems we tend to have an almost automatic distrust of too much reliance on any technology. Perhaps this is because there are so many science fiction stories and movies predicting our downfall because of it. Whatever the reason, we seem to expect the worst from our machines. Remember Y2K when aircraft were going to fall from the sky, and the nuclear plants were going to go into meltdown because all the chips in our computers couldn’t handle the year 2000?

Probably the most common of these technology-based horror stories though is the human-hating artificial intelligence. So far though, the robots have yet to take over, and despite the dire warning of movies like 2001: a space odyssey, which we referenced in the title. Well done you film buffs who recognised it! AI has so far brought a lot of benefits, and it is growing in both use and sophistication.

AI has so far brought a lot of benefits, and it is growing in both use and sophistication.

To bring it down to basics, AI is not a totally functioning, living entity with a mind of its own. It is something that mimics a human quality, for example, the ability to hold a conversation. In the case of Human Resources and Recruitment, it could potentially be a huge help in several areas.

AI, as an advancement of computing in general, is primarily intended to make tasks that are normally performed by human beings either easier or, in some cases, take them over entirely. In the case of recruitment, we could very easily see some of the more labour-intensive selection tasks being handed over to AI; in fact, that has indeed happened.

IBM, for example, have successfully used an AI process, called Watson, to infer skills and abilities from candidate CVs. They quote an example of Watson in action where the AI is ‘intelligent’ enough to assume skills from the information on a resume. Watson will make judgements from, for example, say the information that a candidate worked on an advertising campaign.

Using this information, it will assume a series of inherent skills

Using this information, it will assume a series of inherent skills such as digital advertising knowledge that must have been required. From there it is a short hop to shortlisting candidates for roles based on wider criteria than those is listed on the CV. Watson could, in theory at least, produce a shortlist of suitable candidates for a role by selecting from associated skills and knowledge.

This is a very human skill and one that seems easy to a good recruiter – but for a machine, it is a big leap. Take this one step further, and you could easily see a world where a candidate enters their details, and an AI instantly matches them to roles and companies that would need their skills.

We need to remember that there are limits to how much AI will be able to achieve

However, before everyone in the recruitment world starts to think about re-training, we need to remember that there are limits to how much AI will be able to achieve. We human beings have a few tricks up our sleeves that mean we will be useful for a quite a while yet. There is no substitute for the human element in the recruitment process. The most we can currently expect an AI to do is help with the more mundane tasks such as what is essentially the CV filtering task performed by Watson.

History seems to repeatedly tell us that the machines are simply not up to the task of replacing our jobs without either making us more efficient at our roles or creating another job to go alongside their functions. I mentioned the Y2K scare in the first part of this article, but around the same time, there was also a huge fear that the development of robotics and the increased use of computer technology would result in mass unemployment.

If you are in recruitment, I think you can safely look at the number of candidates to vacancies and say, right now at least, unemployment levels are not exactly a worry. In fact, with employment so high, and skills gap issues in so many industries, good recruitment has never been more important. If you are looking for your dream role or dream employee, we can help! Get in touch with us today.

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16Apr2019