HR teams should anticipate new roles created by AI
In recent years, the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, particularly generative AI, has gained significant attention. With its ability to generate human-like text and content by analysing vast amounts of data, generative AI has become a topic of concern for regulators worldwide. As the use of AI in both personal and professional settings continues to grow, authorities are focusing on ensuring that these tools do not cause harm, especially in the realm of work.
The CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, has joined forces with academics and other AI company CEOs to advocate for improved regulation and oversight of these technologies. They have signed an open letter acknowledging the potential risks associated with AI, including the risk of extinction, and urging global prioritisation of this issue.
Taking the lead in AI regulation, New York City has implemented a groundbreaking law. Starting in July of this year, employers in New York City will be prohibited from using AI or automated employment decision tools for hiring and promotion unless specific requirements are met. These requirements include the publication of a bias audit conducted by an independent auditor. Employers can collaborate with their vendors to fulfil this obligation and rely on external auditing processes provided by vendors.
On a broader scale, both the United States federal government and the European Union (EU) are following suit by developing regulations for AI use in the workplace. They have committed to drafting a Code of Conduct for AI to bridge the gap until comprehensive regulations are established. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has already issued guidance on the use of AI at work, while the EU is finalising work on the AI act. In the EU, HR applications of AI have been classified as high-risk, and the AI act will impose requirements related to data, analytics, transparency to employees and candidates, and appropriate human oversight on employers and AI model producers. These regulations are expected to be legally binding by mid-2024.
The EEOC, with its jurisdiction focused on employers rather than tech vendors, has taken a slightly different approach. Employers will now be held responsible for any discriminatory impact resulting from the use of AI in hiring, promotions, demotions, or firing. This aligns with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which safeguards against workplace discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.
With AI regulations rapidly approaching, HR leaders and employers must proactively prepare to comply and avoid potential fines. According to AI expert Ravin Jesuthasan and Gartner’s distinguished VP analyst Helen Poitevin, HR leaders should engage legal experts to understand the essence of these laws and add them to their existing portfolio of monitored regulations. They should identify which technologies fall under these regulations and be prepared to adjust practices and protocols accordingly.
HR leaders must conduct thorough assessments of their vendor relationships and have candid conversations about compliance, as recommended by Sam Shaddox, Head of Legal at SeekOut. Although applying these regulations retrospectively to products and practices developed without such regulations in mind may present challenges, the temporary discomfort will eventually subside, assures Gershon Goren, CEO and founder of Cangrade.
Regulators face the challenge of striking a balance between ensuring compliance and fostering innovation, especially for smaller companies that may struggle with complex rules. However, HR leaders need not be overly concerned with this aspect. In the long run, maintaining responsibility in the use of AI is essential, irrespective of the existing laws. By prioritising fairness, transparency, and privacy, HR leaders can maximise the benefits of AI while ensuring equal opportunities for all candidates and employees, as suggested by Brian Johnson, Managing Director of Forward Role.
As AI continues to evolve, regulatory frameworks will require ongoing updates to keep pace with technological advancements. It is crucial for HR leaders to stay informed.