Economics/Class Relations

A leaked Amazon memo may help explain why the tech giant is pushing out so many recruiters


Amazon has quietly been developing AI software to screen job applicants.

Last week, Amazon extended buyout offers to hundreds of its recruiters as part of what is expected to be a months-long cycle of layoffs that has left corporate employees across the company angered and on edge. Now, Recode has viewed a confidential internal document that raises the question of whether a new artificial intelligence technology that the company began experimenting with last year will one day replace some of these employees.

According to an October 2021 internal paper labeled as “Amazon confidential,” the tech giant has been working for at least the last year to hand over some of its recruiters’ tasks to an AI technology that aims to predict which job applicants across certain corporate and warehouse jobs will be successful in a given role and fast-track them to an interview — without a human recruiter’s involvement. The technology works in part by finding similarities between the resumes of current, well-performing Amazon employees and those of job applicants applying for similar jobs.

The technology, known internally as Automated Applicant Evaluation, or AAE, was built by a group in Amazon’s HR division known as the Artificial Intelligence Recruitment team and was first tested last year. Amazon first built AI hiring technology in the mid-2010s but discontinued use of its system after it demonstrated a bias against women.

In an initial test, Amazon’s HR division believed that new machine learning models successfully guarded against biases based on race and gender, according to the internal document. Artificial intelligence has become more widely used in hiring across industries in recent years, but there remain questions about its role in introducing or amplifying biases that may occur in hiring processes.

An Amazon spokesperson did not provide comment before publication.


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