As the technological realm becomes more pervasive, whom can we trust? Each week, Liberty Nation brings new insight into the fraudulent use of personal data, breaches of privacy, and attempts to filter our perception.
Going for a job interview is always a nerve-wracking event, but would your chances of getting hired improve or get worse if a computer program were analyzing your performance? HireVue, a US company founded in 2004, began life as a simple recruiting platform for collecting video interviews. It has since taken the next step and developed a facial analysis artificial intelligence program to aid hirers in finding the perfect employee. The company reportedly assists in one million interviews and over 150,000 assessments worldwide every 90 days. But there’s no need to worry about how the algorithm may evaluate applicants because, as one Business Insider headline read, “it’s not as creepy as it sounds.”
The AI uses voice and facial recognition technologies to analyze applicants based on body language, facial expressions and movements, tone of voice, various characteristics of speech, etc., and then rank individuals according to how closely they match to an ideal employee. As the videos aren’t recorded with a live interviewer, applicants can make several attempts at getting it right. The technology is mostly used during early-stage screenings to cut down on time sorting through applications and clients include major corporations like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Vodafone, and Unilever.
“Facial expressions indicate certain emotions, behaviours and personality traits,” Hirevue’s chief psychologist Nathan Mondragon told The Daily Telegraph. “We get about 25,000 data points from 15 minutes of video per candidate. The text, the audio and the video come together to give us a very clear analysis and rich data set of how someone is responding, the emotions and cognitions they go through.”
Critics have expressed concerns that any AI will have in-built biases that could negatively affect certain groups – a particularly worrisome issue when it comes to deciding who can work and in which jobs. “It is going to favour people who are good at doing interviews on video and any data set will have biases in it which will rule out people who actually would have been great at the job,” Anna Cox, professor of human-computer interaction at UCL, told The Telegraph. In 2018, Amazon was forced to abandon its own recruiting software because it had developed a preference for male candidates over female ones. On the other hand, Business Insider reports that, according to Unilever, the software was partially responsible for widening its hiring practices into its “most diverse class to date.”
Govts. Protest Facebook Encryption
You can never please everybody, as Facebook is discovering. Following sundry scandals regarding privacy and a drop in the social media platform’s popularity, the company is moving its focus to private and small-group conversations in the style WhatsApp.
As of 2016, all communication through WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that nobody except the user, not even WhatsApp, can access the contents of users’ messages and calls. According to the app, “Before a message ever leaves your device, it’s secured with a cryptographic lock, and only the recipient has the keys.” In March, Facebook announced its intention to extend encryption to its other messaging services.
While law enforcement can request user information from the company, several governments are evidently not happy that they will not be able to access the contents of messages themselves. Representatives from the US, UK, and Australia have sent an open letter urging Facebook not to go ahead with its encryption plans without including means for law enforcement to access messages during criminal investigations. The letter was signed by Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan. “Security enhancements to the virtual world should not make us more vulnerable in the physical world,” the letter reads. It continues:
“Companies should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access to content, even for preventing or investigating the most serious crimes. This puts our citizens and societies at risk by severely eroding a company’s ability to detect and respond to illegal content and activity, such as child sexual exploitation and abuse, terrorism, and foreign adversaries’ attempts to undermine democratic values and institutions, preventing the prosecution of offenders and safeguarding of victims. It also impedes law enforcement’s ability to investigate these and other serious crimes.”
Facebook responded in a statement, saying that “We believe people have the right to have a private conversation online, wherever they are in the world … We strongly oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere.”
The Electronic Frontier Organization also points out that governments may have more than just pedophiles and terrorists in mind, stating: “Many people—including journalists, human rights activists, and those at risk of abuse by intimate partners—use encryption to stay safe in the physical world as well as the online one. And encryption is central to preventing criminals and even corporations from spying on our private conversations … Facebook and others would face immense pressure to also provide [messages] to authoritarian regimes, who might seek to spy on dissidents in the name of combatting terrorism or civil unrest, for example.”
When it comes to Facebook encryption, it looks like the public is stuck between a rock and a hard place: lack of privacy from prying government eyes on the one hand, and heightened risk of serious crimes on the other.
That’s all for this week from You’re Not Alone. Check back in next Monday to find out what’s happening in the digital realm and how it impacts you.