Issue #27: Tech changes the ways people interact
From job applications to love life - tech changes everything
Technology and innovations are fascinating, but they become meaningful to humans as they change interactions and human dynamics. This week, I’ve collected a number of stories that highlight how technology changes how people find love and how job relationships change.
Of course, technology is supposed to cater to people, but there are always surprising side effects nobody thought of when innovating.
I hope you enjoy the issue!
Headlines you shouldn’t miss
DIGINOMICA How AI ethics falls short - preserving jobs is not enough: The debate around AI and work often circulates around job displacement. However, the ethical dimensions of AI are just as important as there is significant evidence that minority groups face discrimination, and technology could be a pivotal component to improve those experiences.
FAST COMPANY Instead of taking our jobs, what if AI just lets us give our lives more purpose? AI can enhance work experiences by allowing people to work smarter, not harder. Work hours could be saved, and humans collaborating with machines could focus intensely on purpose-driven work instead on income and traditional success solely.
THE ECONOMIST The difficulties of policing remote work: Countries like Portugal are changing their legislation to cater to the new work realities. They require employers to provide proper equipment for remote work and fine those who ignore labor hours. Yet, banning after-hour work proves to be more difficult as workers embrace the new flexibility regardless of formal regulations.
VOX The remote work revolution hasn’t happened yet: Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen, authors of the book “Out of Office. The Big Problem and the Bigger Promise of Working From Home,” argue that people must rethink the role of work. For many adults, it is hard to take time for anything unrelated to work or parenting, but the future of (remote) work offers the potential to do just that.
CNBC Harvard work guru on the make-or-break questions about jobs of the future in U.S.: Harvard project director Rachel Lipson believes that the future of work could change drastically. She believes that work-life returns to the pre-pandemic rates of office work, and remote work may become an inequitable class system. Additionally, she believes that AI could disrupt the labor market, yet nobody seems prepared for that. And, a greater acceptance for non-linear biographies and older workers could be necessary.
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Opinion of the week: AI-driven video interviews worsen the job hunt
Financial Times writer Sarah O’Conner is skeptical of “asynchronous video interviews” (AVI) used in recruiting. If companies decide to use AVIs, applicants don’t talk directly to HR staff but record their responses to pre-selected questions. Afterward, either artificial intelligence or an actual human can review the videos and choose the candidates proceeding to the next round.
The companies behind the AVI hiring software claim that recruiting can become fairer if algorithms examine applicants as personal preferences and biases are theoretically eliminated from the recruiting scenario.
While there is a passionate debate about the question of whether algorithms are reinforcing or combating stereotypes, let’s assume for a second that they are fair. Does the application process become better?
Research indicates that applicants feel more dehumanized and confused by AVIs, while those with a different first language than the required one might feel more anxious and insecure.
I’ve been in a recruiting process with AVIs, and it’s… weird. First of all, you lack the positive adrenaline rush when you’re about the meet the interviewer that gets you excited and energetic. Second, AVIs seem to favor a specific type of person capable of doing impromptu speeches. Of course, the software allows you to delete and re-record the answers to the questions, but you need to be a strong and confident communicator.
As with all HR technologies, insights and experiences are already online that are supposed to help applicants game the system. I find it questionable if AVIs will lead to the best choices and motivate applicants in the best way.
Study of the week: Do robots close the gender income gap —and change relationships?
A recent international study called "Robots, Marriageable Men, Family, and Fertility” conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburg, the University of Bosten, and the Free University of Berlin suggests that automation could have a massive impact on gender dynamics and coupling.
The researchers find that automation and job displacement due to the introduction of robots is a phenomenon that predominantly hits traditional male jobs. Therefore, the gender income gap could increase. Introducing 1.9 robots per 1,000 employees reduced the gender income gap by 4.2 percent, while female labor participation increased by 2.1 percent.
The effects of automation don’t stay in the professional domain, and they spill over to people's private lives. A higher robot exposure was correlated with a slight drop in marriage rates, higher divorce rates, and an increased number of children born out of wedlock.
The researchers suggest that the adverse effects robots had on male incomes reduce their ‘marriageability,’ as — statistically speaking — women tend to seek partners who have a stable income that is at least on their own income or higher.
Fail of the week: Boss firing 900 employees over Zoom apologizes after public backlash
This week, Vishal Garg, CEO of Better.com, found himself in hot waters after he fired 900 employees on a single Zoom call. Employees who got fired cite Garg’s words: “If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately.”
After the manager received public backlash over the insensitive mass firing, he issued a statement apologizing for his behavior: “I failed to show the appropriate amount of respect and appreciation for the individuals who were affected and for their contributions to Better,” the manager explains.
Mass firings are nothing new — companies have used them as a last resort when the balance sheet doesn’t look good. But it’s worth observing if distance and remote work dehumanize workers and work relations to the degree that they could lead to more mass firings of this kind.
Stats of the week: The sectors with most robots emerging
The number of robots is increasing at record levels in different sectors, especially in the U.S.
The Association for Advancing Automation shows where the demand for automation has grown most in the third quarter of 2022. The worker shortage is driving this demand in various sectors. The following graph shows where most robots have been introduced:
Tweet of the week: Tech entrepreneur suggests that blockchain will revolutionize the hiring process
Greg Isenberg, CEO of Late Checkout, proposes a new way to reduce bias and increase efficiency in recruiting. He sees blockchain as a crucial component to achieving this. Click on the tweet below to follow his argument: