Man versus machine: Human beings losing out as AI coldly fires under-performing workers

Man versus machine: Human beings losing out as AI coldly fires under-performing workers

The science fiction trope of artificial intelligence (AI) going against human beings has been creeping into real life, with some businesses engaged in “robo firings”.

AI ethics experts said firing workers using AI is problematic partly because algorithms, at this time, cannot fully model human thinking and replace human intelligence.

The Verge reported in 2019 that American e-commerce giant Amazon could automatically fire warehouse workers based on productivity metrics.

A Californian law kicked in this year prohibiting warehouse bosses from imposing productivity quotas that prevent staff from, for instance, taking a break. Amazon declined to say what changes it would make to comply, Bloomberg reported last December.

Separately, in a judgment published last April, a Dutch court ordered American firm Uber to reinstate some drivers struck off its ride-hailing app for fraud “based solely on automated processing, including profiling”. Uber has sought to contest the judgment.

In the business world, many people are beginning to think that human intelligence can be replaced with AI to make decisions, said Professor David De Cremer, director of the Centre on AI Technology for Humankind (AiTH) at the National University of Singapore Business School.

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