These days, I find myself astonished by the latest hot issues or trends — not just some of them, but all of them. Recently, I came across three news items in the Seattle Times (Oct. 28, 2019) that qualify for my “I’m so glad I’m out-of-touch” files.
The first speaks to a new approach to applying for work. When I applied for jobs, humans read my application and resume and asked me questions. The only change over time was that groups of humans did my interviews. When I left the workplace, job applications and resumes were screened by software that recognized key words. If applicants wrote all the right words, presumably ones that had some relation to the job they were applying for, they were invited for an interview, again with humans. How shockingly yesterday this sounds now.
Today, applicants for jobs at Hilton International and at least one hundred other employers are using Robbie the Robot — no, not Robbie, but a different artificial intelligence system — to conduct interviews. Using applicants’ computers or cell phone cameras the system conducts the interviews, considers candidates’ “facial movements, word choice and speaking voice,” and gives them a score. (I admit that a friend of mind said when she was the only female on a hiring team, the men all voted for the cute young woman regardless of qualifications, but I’d still give myself a better chance with them than a robot.)
I once taught a course in career planning and job interview skills at a community college. I always told applicants they should try to come across as likable, as someone interviewers could see themselves working with. But I wouldn’t know how to prep them for Robbie.
The second issue is a problem that you or I will not be called on to solve and for that we should be grateful. It’s the laws that must be created before Amazon, Google and others flood the skies with drones. These tech firms must answer many questions such as, if my neighbor orders a barbecue from Amazon and the drone accidentally drops it in my yard, may I be the first to put a steak on the Barbie. Or, if the drone lugging my encyclopedia accidentally lets it go over my neighbor’s cat, who’s responsible for the cat? Another question: Can drones read signs that say “No trespassing?” or “No soliciting” and can they tell the difference. Even if they can, does the air over my house belong to mep. The latter question– Who owns the air? — is real.
In the same paper I read about dating apps. Apparently people have grown tired of Tinder and Bumble. (Some of us hardly knew they existed and now they’re passé.) The problem is that often dating apps cast too broad a net. To help us narrow down we now have “GlutenFreeSingles, Ugly Schmucks, and FarmersOnly.” I await “PeopleWhoColorTheirHairGreenonMondays,” and FansofDeadSingers.
I have considered not reading the paper because the political news stresses me out. I think I’ve found three more reasons not to read it at all.