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Executive Briefing: AI in human resources—Use cases and ethical issues

John Sumser (TwoColorHat)
11:05am–11:45am Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 3 ratings)

What you'll learn

  • Explore use cases and ethical considerations for AI in human resources


AI and its related subtechnologies are being introduced into operational decision making throughout the enterprise. The most promising and risky experiments involve the way people are selected and utilized, but the use of AI in HR raises the specter of software product liability. John Sumser offers an overview of the available use case solutions and the accompanying ethical issues.

Use cases: There are currently 22 use cases for which solutions are being proffered, ranging from flight risk predictors to organizational learning acceleration in call centers. John walks you through each of them.

Latency: Generally, AI techniques excel at solving problems where goals are consistent, rules are fixed, or both. In human organizations, goals vary, rules change, and consistency is always a slight improvement away from reality. Our organizations are complex adaptive dynamic systems. When machine intelligence learns the current status quo, it is just a question of time before it is interrupted and the machine has to relearn. This means that machine recommendations have a hard-to-measure variable quality that confounds decision making.

Ethical issues: There is a range of potent and disturbing ethical issues. The quantification of work guarantees that currently configured systems will never find the Einstein in your company. Numerous social psychology experiments have shown the human tendency to follow instructions from an authority figure. Employees are likely to do that. A key question is how to teach the workforce to argue with machine recommendations.

Photo of John Sumser

John Sumser


John Sumser is the HR technology industry’s leading independent analyst. For the past 23 years, he’s been following and prodding the evolution of HR tech. Through his website,, John documents and critiques the state of the industry. With liberal arts degree in hand, John joined the engineering world, learning coding and electronics design in the defense industry. He’s merged that technical underpinning with a fascination with the human dynamics in organizations to build an analyst’s practice. He’s recently published a comprehensive analysis of AI (and its subordinate technologies) in the HR sector.

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05/03/2018 11:39am EDT

I really enjoyed the presentation and was wondering if the slides are available. I would like to share the slides with other team members at my company since I found this presentation so enjoyable and insightful. Thanks.