Job Hunting in the Age of Smart Machines

You may need to impress a machine the next time you apply for a job. And be careful what you put online. These job-vetting machines may not like your blogs and social media posts.

The fact these capabilities have been in the pipeline has been known for some time. But now they’re out there and companies are using them.

Several local firms are understood to be using IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence skills harnessed through a user application to initially vet applicants for jobs.

Machines narrow down the applicants list before humans move in to make final choices. The AI application was one of several showcased this week at IBM’s Watson Summit in Sydney.

You may remember Watson as that cocky, know-all machine that beat all the human competition in US quiz show Jeopardy! in 2011.

Watson needed lots of skills to achieve that, such as voice recognition and natural language processing and an ability to digest encyclopaedic amounts of data, images and video.

Photo: article supplied

IBM subsequently took the scalpel to Watson’s brain and divided its skills into distinct services business can tap into.

As things stand, 15 cognitive services that form part of Watson’s formidable talents are available through IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform. You can harness natural language processing, build a chatbot for mobile and messaging platforms, for customer services and for infusing relevant news content into consumer apps. There’s speech to text and text to speech.

Data and analytics firm Servian used Watson to build its Servian Intelligence Processor, which profiles and compares potential candidates for jobs. It compares personality traits and values to match candidates to specific teams and roles.

But it doesn’t stop there. Watson’s “personality insights” can be used to glean insights from social media, enterprise data and other digital communications. That includes analysing speech to assess a person’s personality characteristics, including needs and values from their emails, text messages, tweets and forum posts.

Given that most of us have thousands of public posts online, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle. We can only hope these machines are in a good mood when they see our job applications.

Servian tells The Australian that with recent technology these analytic skills are more robust, and offer more accuracy and detail, but humans are still needed to make definitive staff selections.

Helping decide who flies and who dies in the employment market is the tip of the iceberg for Watson, whose portfolio of skills is growing. On the one hand it may help land you on the dole, but then pick you up and help you get a loan.

This was originally published by The Australian.

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