HRIntelligencer v2.14

On April 17, 2018, in HR Intelligencer, HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser
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This week, we bring you a number of upsoide down ideas. Good strategy depends on being able to incorporate the unthinkable. There are a few here.

Are robots persons? This is the first emergence of the liability question on the public stage.Are robots and AI responsioble for theoir decisions? Who is?

In a cautionary tale, over-automation is being blamed for some of Tesla’s woes. Meanwhile, the definition of work ias being brought into question. Work is the value we generate; work is our ROI.


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


Big Picture
  • Europe Divided Over Robot Personhood. Software liability is going to be an integral part of the conversation going forward. When we used industrial era enterprise tools, the software merely recorded and returned the inputs given by humans. Today’s intelligent tools do much more. They make low-level decisions and constrain the human’s capacity to interfere. There is a real question involving the point at which a recommendation becomes a decision. Somewhere in that transformation, ownership of liability shifts. In this article, the question of whether or not robot personalities are people is under scrutiny. via @azeem
  • The Scientific Paper is Obsolete. Our interfaces are problematic. Much of the output of intelligent software emerges as a single numeric score or a very specific set of recommendations. In human organizations, this is the foundation of real ethical problems. Taking a machine’s suggestions without a thorough examination can easily be a kind of malpractice. This essay steps through some interesting alternatives to the direct ‘intuitive’ interface. Our conversations with machines should be interactive, particularly when they involve the fates of fellow human beings.  via @azeem
HR’s View
  • The Robots Are Killing Tesla. Over-automation. HR will increasingly be called on to make an assessment of where to draw the line.
  • Should We Treat Data as Labor? Let’s Open Up the Discussion.  “In a sense, data is being treated as free land for tech companies to discover and sweep up from our online footprints. This leaves users, in the absence of any bargaining power, destitute of a way to meaningfully negotiate over payments for their data and completely unprotected from the invasion to their privacy. This way, each of us are being denied a share in the economic value of the production our data empowers.”
  • Walmart’s Future Workforce: Robots and Freelancers. “Flexible work arrangements, which include crowdsourcing platforms such as Uber, as well as freelancers and independent contractors, increased about 50 percent from 2005 to 2015. These jobs account for 94 percent—nearly all—of the net employment growth in the United States over that time.”


Quote of the Week

“The advent of the internet has opened a new space for creative work arrangements that challenge the time-honored distinction between labor and leisure. In fact, we now work all day, every day. When tagging an old friend in a picture of her most recent birthday, when asking Alexa to skip the next song, and when writing a review for the barbershop you went to yesterday, you are generating data that tech companies crunch along with millions of other user experiences, to profit from what their algorithms learn. But is a two-way in-kind transfer, in which technology users often get free services and tech companies get their data, the best arrangement possible? In a recent paper, we argue that perhaps it is not.

Many fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will end up replacing humans in employment – which could have huge consequences for the share of national income going to these displaced workers. In fact, companies in all sorts of industries are increasingly requiring less labor to do the same amount of work. How much work will end up being displaced by robots is still unknown, but as a society we should worry about what the future will look like when this happens. The paper’s main contribution is a proposal to treat data as labor, instead of capital owned by these tech firms. We think this might be a way to provide income and a new source of meaning to people’s lives in a world where many traditional occupations no longer exist. One of us, Jaron Lanier, posited this idea in a 2013 book entitled Who Owns the Future?”



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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