connor 051121SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator John Connor (D-Lockport) to identify and report racial bias in hiring processes that rely on artificial intelligence to determine suitable applicants passed out of Senate committee Tuesday afternoon.

“We work every day to monitor and root out systemic racial bias in our institutions, but we also need to make sure we’re addressing it in our technology,” Connor said. “If companies are using systems that are inadvertently singling out people of color and keeping them from opportunities they deserve, we need to know and we need to put an end to it.”

Many large companies use some form of AI in their hiring processes. Applicants record answers to a series of questions and submit them to be analyzed by the company’s AI software. Algorithms evaluate facial expressions, word choice, body language and vocal tone, to decide which applicants advance.

For companies that rely solely on AI screenings of these videos to select candidates, House Bill 53 requires that the race and ethnicity of applicants, both those hired and those rejected, is collected and reported. If passed, this legislation would require these reports to be sent to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, where the data would be analyzed and shared with the Governor and General Assembly.

The legislation remains in the Senate for further discussion.