[D] Working on an ethically questionnable project…
I’m writing here to discuss a bit of a moral dilemma I’m having at work with a new project we got handed. Here it is in a nutshell :
Provide a tool that can gauge a person’s personality just from an image of their face. This can then be used by an HR office to help out with sorting job applicants.
So first off, there is no concrete proof that this is even possible. I mean, I have a hard time believing that our personality is characterized by our facial features. Lots of papers claim this to be possible, but they don’t give accuracies above 20%-25%. (And if you are detecting a person’s personality using the big 5, this is simply random.) This branch of pseudoscience was discredited in the Middle Ages for crying out loud.
Second, if somehow there is a correlation, and we do develop this tool, I don’t want to be anywhere near the training of this algorithm. What if we underrepresent some population class? What if our algorithm becomes racist/ sexist/ homophobic/ etc… The social implications of this kind of technology used in a recruiter’s toolbox are huge.
Now the reassuring news is that the team I work with all have the same concerns as I do. The project is still in its State-of-the-Art phase, and we are hoping that it won’t get past the Proof-of-Concept phase. Hell, my boss told me that it’s a good way to “empirically prove that this mumbo jumbo does not work.”
What do you all think?