Artificial Intelligence that “Blindfolds” Hiring Practices
Ms Iba Masood and Syed Ahmed were born and raised in the United Arab Emirates. The pair, in their mid-twenties, are on a mission to crack the ceiling and walls encasing Silicon Valley’s “brogrammer” culture.
As the BBC report titled, “Beyond 'Brogrammers': Can AI create a meritocracy?” defines “brogrammer”:
“Brogrammers are not your standard, introverted computer programmers. They are a more recent stereotype: the macho, beer swilling players who went to top schools and are often hired by their friends or former fraternity brothers in the technology industry.”
The presumption the definition excludes is that the brogrammers are all overwhelmingly white.
The Middle Eastern immigrants to the United States noticed a hiring trend in tech companies:
"If there's a group of a hundred candidates and they're from multiple different backgrounds, different races, different genders, we noticed across the board there was a certain type of programmer that would still move forward in interviews," Ms Masood said.
She means the brogrammers.
So Masood and Ahmed created a bit of computer software they called Tara that uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to find the best candidates:
“Tara analyses and ranks programmers' code, removing biographical information such as age, race, gender or where you have worked in the past or where you went to university. The algorithm means that people are judged on the work they have produced rather than who they are or who they know.”
Clearly, tech companies have a problem they do not consider very pressing when it comes to their diversity hiring practices:
“In the US, women held just 25% of professional computing occupations in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And more than 90% of those women were white. Just 5% were Asian, 3% African American and 1% Hispanic.”
Though as minority business owners Masood and Ahmed are pleased with the results of the AI’s blind hiring choices for their own tech company, it remains to be seen if the brogramming community and their “bromanagers” will embrace that form of replacement technology. After all, we’re talking about software that actually increases the number of diversity hires who may not be a “cultural fit” for the frat brothers, but who are nonetheless better programmers.