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HRIntelligencer v2.08

On February 27, 2018, in HR Intelligencer, HRExaminer, by John Sumser
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Think of this week’s issue as your trip to the bleeding edge farmer’s market. There are no crystal clear answers about anything in the emerging technology. The two big picture pieces are a complementary pair: one is hopelessly optimistic; the other is frightening.

There are two cautionary tales in the HR’s view section. Both underline the idea that AI aggravates (rather than eliminates) bias.

Perhaps the most interesting piece is the Corporate Longevity Forecast. If corporate longevity is declining, are the ways we think about companies becoming defective? Will apply AI to solve precisely the wrong problem?

Finally, there is an important tutorial on API Integration.

John Sumser will be presenting on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at the OReilly AI Conference in New York City taking place between April 30 – May 2, 2018.

Big Picture
  • Steven Pinker’s case for optimism. Economist review of Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress. “In 45 out of 52 countries in the World Values Survey, happiness increased between 1981 and 2007. It rises roughly in line with absolute income per head, not relative income. Loneliness, at least among American students, appears to be declining. Global warming is a big threat, but not insurmountable. The number of nuclear weapons in the world has fallen by 85% since its peak.”
  • ‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth. From the Guardian comes this deep dive into the inner workings of the YouTube recommendation algorithm. It’s important for HR Leaders because it underlines the difficulty technologists have controlling recommendation engines. It is not at all clear that what you want for your organization is an unmanaged recommendation tool.


HR’s View






Quote of the Week

“Progress has often been stunningly rapid. The vast majority of poor Americans enjoy luxuries unavailable to the Vanderbilts and Astors of 150 years ago, such as electricity, air-conditioning and colour televisions. Street hawkers in South Sudan have better mobile phones than the brick that Gordon Gekko, a fictional tycoon, flaunted in “Wall Street” in 1987. It is not just that better medicine and sanitation allow people to live longer, healthier lives, or that labour-saving devices have given people more free time, or that Amazon and Apple offer a dazzling variety of entertainment to fill it. People are also growing more intelligent, and more humane.

In every part of the world IQ scores have been rising, by a whopping 30 points in 100 years, meaning that the average person today scores better than 98% of people a century ago. How can this be, given that intelligence is highly heritable, and clever folk breed no more prolifically than less gifted ones? The answer is better nutrition (“brains are greedy organs”) and more stimulation. Children are far likelier to go to school than they were in 1900, while “outside the schoolhouse, analytic thinking is encouraged by a culture that trades in visual symbols (subway maps, digital displays), analytic tools (spreadsheets, stock reports) and academic concepts that trickle down into common parlance (supply and demand, on average, human rights).”

Mr Pinker contends that this braininess has moral consequences, since people who can reason abstractly can ask: “What would the world be like if everyone did this?” That is consistent with the observable spread of Enlightenment values. Two centuries ago only 1% of people lived in democracies, and even there women and working-class men were denied the vote. Now two-thirds of people live in democracies, and even authoritarian states such as China are freer than they once were.” from Steven Pinker’s case for optimism



Curate means a variety of things: from the work of vicar entrusted with the care of souls to that of an exhibit designer responsible for clarity and meaning. At the core, it means something about the importance of empathy in organization. HRIntelligencer is an update on the comings and goings in the Human Resource experiment with Artificial Intelligence, Digital Employees, Algorithms, Machine Learning, Big Data and all of that stuff. We present a few critical links with some explanation. The goal is to give you a way to surf the rapidly evolving field without drowning in information. We offer a timeless curation of the intersection of HR and the machines that serve it. We curate the emergence of Machine Led Decision Making in HR. 

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