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This Week

Paradox is in the air. On one level, things seem to be moving so fast that it’s impossible to keep up. On another, things stay remarkably the same from year to year. The pace of change is slow locally and fast globally.

Humans hunger for solid answers. Certainty and predictability are favored by the legal system, managerial education, social institutions, and investors. The world has always made a point of resisting this human desire.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb gave us The Black Swan. It’s the idea that the world turns on unpredictable events. Anyone with large organizational experience knows that the unpredictable is the norm, that routine is routinely abandoned in the face of significant change, that the return to ‘normalcy’ always involves a new normal.

For the most part, contemporary AI ignores this reality, blithely assuming that human systems generate predictable rules that are observable in their data.

This issue offers an array of perspectives on what’s changing, what’s not and the ethical implications.

– John Sumser


Big Picture


  • Amazon needs to come clean about racial bias in its algorithms. Fantastic inventory of the emerging bias issue set. The article is a great manifestation of an emerging political form: technology muckraking. Amazon may or may not be guilty as charged. The article take the economic giant to task for not doing things it wasn’t required to do….because outrage fuels audience energy. Still read it closely. You might be on the receiving end of this kind of journalism because of something your AI did. How would you handle it?
  • Avoid the dangers of teleopathy. Teleopathy is ‘goal disease.’ The symptoms are Fixation on certain super goals, Rationalization of the possible consequences (narrowing of perspective), and Detachment or seeing everything as a game to be won. There is every reason to believe that many of the current approaches to performance management foster teleopathy. It’s the unbalanced pursuit of purpose. Read this as a part of your search for unintended consequences.


HR’s View





  • Working Ethically At Speed. Much of the fuss about AI involves speeding things up. The underlying theory is that faster is cheaper, that repetitive tasks can be reduced to near zero duration. Making fast decisions with big ethical consequences is a bit of battlefield expertise that even the best soldiers get wrong sometimes.
  • Skill shift: Automation and the future of the workforce. From McKinsey. Companies that adopt AI early realize a sustainable competitive edge.





Quote of the Week


“As the rate of change in technology dramatically accelerates, we see a corollary acceleration in the speed with which teams are forced to make choices of huge ethical consequence. Faster is different. Inventing at speed requires different ways of assessing and designing for ethics. And while the majority of critique about how technology and innovation are causing harm has come from academia, new organisational forms like think and do tanks are working that allow for faster publication cycles and more actionable research. And increasingly, academics — like Tufecki — are adapting their own ways of working to address the way that this speed affects their ability to inform 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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