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Tracking your facial expressions, reading between the lines: AI in the workplace

People work at computers in the community space of Factory Berlin on July 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.
People work at computers in the community space of Factory Berlin on July 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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Artificial intelligence is already being used in courtrooms, children’s toys and, of course, labs… but it turns out it may be used in your workplace it, too.

Human-resource departments are already using AI in myriad of ways. One tool helps management read between the lines of employee surveys, hoping to interpret what the respondent may have actually meant and provide more accurate feedback to bosses. Another system tracks the frequency of interaction between employees to determine which employees have a closer connection than others in hopes of increasing workflow efficiency. Yet another maps facial expressions during video interviews to track when the job candidate may be lying or nervous.

Though AI can help HR departments improve productivity and quickly sift through employee feedback, using it to make decisions in hiring, firing and compensation can present problems. Because algorithms look for patterns, they can unintentionally fall subject to bias. There’s also a privacy issue – in California, companies do not legally have to notify their employees that they are being tracked using artificial intelligence.

Still, AI is only going to become more prevalent in human resources and the workplace as a whole.

How would you feel if you knew your company was using AI to analyze your employee feedback or track your interaction with your co-workers? And if you work in HR, what are your opinions on using AI? Do the workflow benefits outweigh the possible drawbacks?

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Imani Moise, reporter at The Wall Street Journal who has been following the story; she tweets @MoiseNoise

Garry Mathiason, San Francisco-based attorney with the firm Littler Mendelson P.C., where he represents employers; he co-chairs the firm’s Robotics, AI and Automation Industry Group; he tweets @GarryMathiason