WordPress Ad Banner

US Penalizes Chinese Firm Misusing AI in Recruitment

In what serves as a stark reminder against the unlawful application of AI in business operations, a significant settlement has been reached in the US, marking the inaugural resolution involving AI-driven recruitment tools. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) successfully resolved a dispute with a Chinese online education platform, underscoring the growing importance of ethical AI practices in the hiring domain.

The focal point of the settlement is iTutorGroup, an entity that came under scrutiny in 2020 for allegedly employing AI tools to engage in discriminatory practices during the recruitment process. The platform, which hires online educators across a range of subjects, was accused of segregating older and younger job applicants through its AI-powered processes.

The EEOC, in its charge sheet filed in 2022, stated, “Three interconnected enterprises offering English-language tutoring services under the ‘iTutorGroup’ brand in China violated federal law by programming their online recruitment software to automatically dismiss older candidates based on their age.”

Having initiated an initiative in 2021 aimed at ensuring that Artificial Inteligence software employed by US employers adheres to anti-discrimination legislation, the EEOC underscored its commitment to scrutinizing and addressing instances of AI misuse. According to a report by the Economic Times, the EEOC made it clear that it would focus its enforcement endeavors on companies found to be misappropriating AI capabilities.

The culmination of this effort resulted in a settlement agreement, with iTutorGroup agreeing to pay $365,000 to over 200 ‘senior’ job applicants whose applications were purportedly disregarded due to their age. The settlement, documented in a joint submission to the New York federal court and reported by Reuters, encompasses remedies such as back pay and liquidated damages.

Central to the allegations against iTutorGroup was its AI software’s systematic exclusion of female candidates aged above 55 and male candidates above 60, contravening the provisions of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This case exemplifies the significance of fair and just application of AI in HR processes.

Interestingly, a parallel lawsuit was filed by another entity, accusing iTutorGroup of having developed AI-powered software that aids other companies in singling out applicants based on characteristics such as race, age, and disability. This legal action was brought forth by Derek Mobley against Workday, claiming that the AI software developed by the latter facilitated biased candidate screening. Mobley, a Black man over 40 who grapples with anxiety and depression, alleged that Workday’s software worked against him as he applied for positions at organizations utilizing Workday’s recruitment screening tool.

The unfolding scenario highlights the imperative for automated AI systems, designed to assist HR departments, to be equitable and secure. Noteworthy players like Accenture and Lloyds Banking Group have already incorporated innovative techniques like virtual reality games into their hiring processes. With the rise of AI in recruitment, a report by Aptitude Research revealed that 55% of companies are augmenting their investments in recruitment automation. This underscores the need for a thoughtful, ethical, and legal approach to AI utilization in the employment sphere.

AI Regulation: Two Bipartisan Bills Introduced in US Senate

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to experience rapid growth, governments around the world have started to consider modifying policies and regulations around the technology, US Senators yesterday introduced two separate bipartisan bills addressing AI to tackle issues surrounding the technology and to remain “competitive”, according to Reuters.

One bill would require the US government to be transparent when using AI when interacting with people.

The other bill would establish an office to determine whether the US was competitive in the latest technologies. Additionally, the proposed bill would mandate agencies to create a way to enable people to lodge appeals against decisions made by AI.

Reaching solutions

Homeland Security committee chair, Democrat Senators Gary Peters along with Republicans – Senators Mike Braun and James Lankford, introduced a bill that would require US government agencies to tell individuals when the agency is using AI to interact with them.

Senator Mike Braun said, “The federal government needs to be proactive and transparent with AI utilization and ensure that decisions aren’t being made without humans in the driver’s seat.” 

Democrat Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Warner further introduced a measure along with Republican Senator Todd Young.

Under the new measure, an Office of Global Competition Analysis would be established through which the agency would ensure that the US remained front and center in developing artificial intelligence.

“We cannot afford to lose our competitive edge in strategic technologies like semiconductors, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence to competitors like China,” Michael Bennet said.

Meanwhile, the UK has joined the race to propose regulatory solutions for AI technology. The UK is set to host a global summit on artificial intelligence safety later this year.

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday at a joint press conference with US President Joe Biden that the two countries would work together on AI safety.

Industrial insight

With ChatGPT, an AI program frequently making headlines this year, lawmakers around the world have had to address issues regarding the use of such technology.

Recently, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman addressed a Senate panel saying that he is willing to work with regulators and develop frameworks to reduce potential harm from AI.

“I think we also need rules, guidelines, on what’s expected in terms of disclosure from a company providing a model,” he said. “I am nervous about it”, he added.

Altman’s testimony was one of many at the Senate as the White House invited top technology CEOs to address AI concerns with U.S. lawmakers seeking to further the technology’s advantages, while limiting its misuse. 

Altman’s warnings about AI and elections come at a time when companies large and small have been competing to bring AI to market, with billions of dollars at play. But experts everywhere have warned that the technology may worsen societal harms such as prejudice and misinformation.

Some have even gone so far as to speculate AI could end humanity itself.

US at Risk of Losing AI Edge to China, Says Scale AI CEO

The US is at risk of losing its edge to China in the race for artificial intelligence (AI), according to Alexandr Wang, the CEO of Scale AI. Wang was speaking at a summit organized by the company for government officials, Bloomberg reported.

AI is among the future technologies that countries around the world are looking to establish their supremacy in as the world evolves into the next age. Interesting Engineering has previously reported that China has been denting U.S. dominance in the technology sector. In studies conducted by policy institutes, China has already established monopolies in certain areas.

Not only is China home to the leading research institutes of a large spectrum of topics, but it is also generating nearly half of the world’s most impactful papers in these areas. When it comes to AI, the U.S. is still ahead but at risk of losing its lead, according to Wang.

What does Scale AI do?

The U.S. lead in AI has been demonstrated by the unveiling of ChatGPT, the conversational chatbot that multiple companies in China have tried to replicate but without the resounding popularity.

While OpenAI is credited with creating GPT, the large language model (LLM) behind ChatGPT, the role of companies like Scale AI cannot be discounted. LLMs need tons of data to train the bots, and the bot is only as good as the data it is trained on.

In 2016, Alexander Wang dropped out of MIT and founded Scale AI to help companies get the right training data to train their models. Apart from OpenAI, the company is also helping chipmaker Nvidia, carmaker Toyota, and the U.S. government build better AI systems.

How the U.S. is losing its edge

According to Wang, AI is unavoidable technology that must be integrated into military operations to stay ahead of adversaries. Comparing AI to nuclear weapons, Wang said that the technology would reshape global diplomacy and power.

Wang also pointed out that China was investing heavily in AI, both in terms of absolute numbers as well as relative to its defense budget. In a presentation at the summit, Wang detailed that the People’s Liberation Army had invested $1.6 billion in the technology in 2020, compared to the $1.3 billion allocated by the Department of Defense.

Senator Mike Rounds, speaking at the same event, agreed that the U.S. currently held the advantage when it came to data collection and labeling but also warned that services like TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance could give the Chinese access to additional English language samples to train their AI systems.

Interesting Engineering has also reported that the flurry of AI models developed by Chinese tech counterparts after ChatGPT’s success has also been bilingual and intended for users outside China.

Wang further added that the U.S. must leverage the vast amounts of data it collects through its military hardware, such as sensors, cameras, and satellites, to train AI. Ensuring the quality of the inputs can turn the “hardware advantage into data advantage.”

Montana Makes History as 1st US State to Ban TikTok

Montana has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first state in the United States to ban the popular video app TikTok. Governor Greg Gianforte has signed the prohibition into law, which will take effect next year. This move is expected to serve as a legal test for a potential nationwide ban on the Chinese-owned platform, as lawmakers in Washington increasingly call for stricter regulations and enhanced security measures.

Implications of the Montana Ban

Under the new law, TikTok will be prohibited from operating within Montana’s jurisdiction. Violations of the ban, including accessing or downloading the app, will result in a $10,000 fine for each offense, with fines applicable on a daily basis. The law also mandates that Apple and Google remove TikTok from their app stores, and companies could face additional penalties.

Anticipated Challenges and Criticism

Legal challenges and lawsuits are highly likely to arise as critics argue that the ban infringes on the free speech rights of Montana residents. The Montana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has expressed concerns about the impact of the ban on the ability of Montanans to express themselves, gather information, and conduct small business operations. TikTok acknowledges that the constitutionality of the ban will ultimately be determined by the courts.

Ongoing Concerns and Global Controversy

The Montana ban is part of a larger ongoing dispute between TikTok and several western governments. The app has already been banned on government devices in the United States, Canada, and several European countries. TikTok, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, has faced allegations from US politicians that it operates under the influence of the Chinese government and engages in espionage activities on behalf of Beijing. However, the company vehemently denies these claims.

Looking Ahead

Montana’s status as the first state to ban TikTok is likely to have broader implications for the regulation of social media platforms and the ongoing debates surrounding privacy, national security, and foreign influence. The legal challenges and court decisions related to the ban will shape the future of TikTok’s operations in the United States and may influence the approach taken by other states and the federal government in addressing similar concerns.

The Future of TikTok in the United States

Montana’s ban on TikTok is part of a larger trend of increased scrutiny and regulation of Chinese-owned tech companies in the United States. With concerns regarding data privacy, national security, and potential foreign influence, TikTok has encountered significant challenges in maintaining its operations within the country. The app’s immense popularity among American users has also raised concerns about the potential access of sensitive personal information by the Chinese government.

Previously, the Trump administration issued executive orders seeking to ban TikTok, citing national security concerns, but these orders were temporarily blocked by the courts. The Biden administration has taken a slightly different approach by conducting a review of apps with ties to foreign adversaries and assessing the risks they pose to American users’ data.

TikTok has made efforts to address these concerns by implementing stricter data security measures and establishing transparency initiatives to allow external audits of its data handling practices. The company has also taken steps to distance itself from its Chinese ownership, such as creating separate entities for its operations in different regions.

However, the battle between TikTok and the US government is far from over. The Montana ban will likely serve as a testing ground for the legality and constitutionality of such measures, potentially setting a precedent for other states or even national regulations targeting TikTok.

The Impact on Users and Content Creators

The ban on TikTok in Montana will undoubtedly affect the app’s users and content creators in the state. For many individuals, TikTok has become a platform for self-expression, creativity, and community engagement. The loss of access to TikTok could limit their ability to connect with others, showcase their talents, and reach a wider audience.

Moreover, the ban may have broader implications for the future of social media regulation and freedom of expression in the digital age. It raises questions about the balance between national security concerns and individual rights, as well as the role of governments in regulating online platforms.

The Global Debate on TikTok’s Security

The controversy surrounding TikTok extends beyond the United States. Several other countries, including India, have banned or imposed restrictions on the app due to similar concerns over data security and potential ties to the Chinese government. The global debate on TikTok’s security and its implications for national sovereignty, privacy, and economic interests is ongoing.

As countries grapple with these issues, the regulation of TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps is likely to continue evolving. The outcome of legal battles, ongoing investigations, and policy discussions will shape the future landscape of social media and technology regulation worldwide.

First US state votes to ban TikTok with $10,000 fine per violation

TikTok has been battling the possibility of a ban in the United States for years. Now, lawmakers in Montana voted to approve a “first-of-its-kind” bill that would ban the popular social media app across the state.

TikTok ban: Montana passes first statewide ban

As reported by the Wall Street JournalMontana lawmakers voted 54-43 in favor of approving the bill. It will now be sent to Governor Greg Gianforte, and if he signs it, Montana will officially become the first state to implement a statewide TikTok ban.

As the bill is written today, the TikTok ban would go into effect on January 1, 2024. ByteDance, the China-based company that owns TikTok, would be barred from operating within Montana. “Any entity violating this law” would be fined $10,000 “per violation,” the report from the WSJ says. “It’s unclear how some elements of the legislation would be enforced,” the report continues.

Whether or not Governor Gianforte signs the bill into law remains to be seen, but he has been an outspoken critic of TikTok in the past. Montana has already banned TikTok on government-issued devices, as have other states. The US federal government has also banned TikTok on government devices, as have numerous other countries around the world.

Gianforte has also pressed universities in Montana to implement their own TikTok bans. This is something other states have already done, including Texas.

As explained by the Associated Press, the penalties would not be applied to users themselves but rather Byte Dance or the app store from which the app was downloaded. This, of course, includes Apple and Google.

Montana lawmakers say that they want the state to be a “leader” when it comes to banning access to TikTok. Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has described the app as a “tool used by the Chinese government to spy on Montanans.”

The bill would be void if the United States enacts a federal ban on TikTok or if “TikTok severs its Chinese connections,” the bill explains. Knudsen, however, has said Montana is acting quickly because he isn’t sure federal lawmakers will do the same.

In a statement responding to the Montana legislation, TikTok said that it will “continue to fight for TikTok users and creators in Montana whose livelihoods and First Amendment rights are threatened by this egregious government overreach.”

If the bill is signed by Governor Gianforte, experts say that it will set the stage for a series of legal challenges and could ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court.

Apple and Google have not commented on this bill, which again would put them on the hook for $10,000 penalties for each violation.

U.S. President puts pressure on tech giants over AI

U.S. President Joe Biden has called on tech companies to ensure the safety of AI products before releasing them to the public. Biden emphasized the need for appropriate safeguards to protect society, national security, and the economy from potential risks associated with AI. Social media is cited as an example of the negative impact of powerful technologies in the absence of safeguards. U.S. President Joe Biden has called on leading technology companies to ensure their products are secure before releasing them to the public, amidst growing concerns over the safety of artificial intelligence (AI). Speaking at a meeting with science and technology advisers on April 4, Biden highlighted the importance of addressing potential risks to society, national security, and the economy.

U.S. President on social media’s negative impact on AI

During the meeting, Biden cited social media as an example of the negative impact that powerful technologies can have when appropriate measures to protect against them are not in place. He said: Absent safeguards, we see the impact on the mental health and self-images and feelings and hopelessness, especially among young people.

He also emphasized the need for non-partisan privacy laws that limit the personal data gathered by technology firms, prohibit child-targeted advertising, and prioritize health and safety in product development.

Biden’s comments come amid growing concerns about the safety and ethical implications of AI, as the technology continues to develop rapidly. The ability to swiftly and effectively collect and analyze enormous amounts of data has been a significant contributing factor in the development of AI.

Also, the demand for automated systems that can complete activities that are too risky, challenging or time-consuming for humans, as well as the accessibility of enormous amounts of digital data, have also driven the development of AI.

Ethics and safety concerns drive AI research

However, societal and cultural issues have also influenced the development of AI. Discussions concerning the ethics and the ramifications of AI have arisen in response to worries about job losses and automation.

Concerns have also been raised about the possibility of AI being employed for malicious purposes, such as cyberattacks or disinformation campaigns. As a result, many researchers and decision-makers are attempting to ensure that AI is created and applied ethically and responsibly.

AI is being increasingly utilized in a variety of modern-day applications, from virtual assistants to self-driving cars, medical diagnostics, and financial analysis. Researchers are also exploring novel ideas like reinforcement learning, quantum computing, and neuromorphic computing.

One important trend in modern-day AI is the shift toward more human-like interactions, with voice assistants like Siri and Alexa leading the way. Natural language processing has also made significant progress, enabling machines to understand and respond to human speech with increasing accuracy.

The recently developed ChatGPT is an example of AI that can understand natural language and generate human-like responses to a wide range of queries and prompts.

President Biden’s call for tech companies to prioritize the safety and ethical implications of AI underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to regulating and implementing the technology. While AI presents numerous benefits, it also poses significant risks that must be addressed through responsible and ethical development and implementation.

Apple Launches ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Service in US

Apple Inc has announced the launch of its “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) service, Apple Pay Later, in the United States. The move is expected to disrupt the fintech sector that is currently dominated by firms like Affirm Holdings and Klarna. The BNPL service will allow users to split purchases into four payments, spread over six weeks, with no interest or fees. The loans will be available for online and in-app purchases made on iPhones and iPads with merchants that accept Apple Pay, with amounts ranging from $50 to $1,000. The service will initially be offered to select users, with a full rollout planned in the coming months.

The service, Apple Pay Later, will allow users to split purchases into four payments spread over six weeks with no interest or fees, the company said. It will initially be offered to select users, with plans of a full roll-out in the coming months.

Apple Pay Later’s entry into the BNPL market is expected to significantly impact other players in the industry. Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell, predicts that Apple Pay Later “will absolutely wallop some of the other players”. Affirm, a major player in the BNPL space, saw its shares fall more than 7% following the announcement. PayPal also closed about 1% lower.

The BNPL sector experienced a surge in demand during the pandemic-related lockdowns, as shoppers turned to online payment platforms. Fintech companies offering BNPL services, especially to millennials and Gen Z customers, benefited from the increased demand. However, rising interest rates and inflation have since dampened purchasing power and forced consumers to tighten their purse strings.

Apple’s entry into the BNPL market is expected to shake things up, but the company is treading cautiously. Christopher Brendler, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, notes that “we expect Apple to tread cautiously, especially in this macro environment”. Apple has decided to not use a partner and will underwrite, fund, and collect on the loans directly. The service is enabled through the Mastercard Installments program, with Goldman Sachs as the issuer of the Mastercard payment credential.

With over 85% of US retailers accepting Apple Pay, the launch of Apple Pay Later is expected to further solidify the company’s position in the payments industry.

US Announces Rs. 2.5 Crore Award for Pakistani Game Developers

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Investment Promotion Activity (IPA) has announced the ‘Green Alliance: Gaming Challenge Awards’ for Pakistani game developers concerned about climate change. 

The award aims to encourage the development of commercially viable games that raise awareness about mitigating climate change, promote sustainable climate-smart practices, and encourage youth to take measures to protect the planet.

The awards also seek to enhance US-Pakistan bilateral trade and increase foreign direct investment. The IPA is seeking award applications from game developers and relevant enterprises registered in Pakistan, with potential award funding of up to Rs. 25 Million per award.

The awards are open to all geographic regions of Pakistan, and women-led/owned businesses are encouraged to apply. 

Interested parties can receive more information about the award application process by sending an email to IPAfund@pakistanipa.com with ‘Green Alliance: Gaming Challenge Awards’ in the subject line.

The deadline to submit applications is 11:00 PM (Pakistan Standard Time) on 31 May 2023.