Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, New York Times writer, former Google data scientist, and author of “Everybody Lies” reveals how employers could use online data in their hiring practices. Following is a transcript of the video.
Everything you do correlates with something else you might do. That’s just the way the world works. If you wear blue shirts, you’re more likely to do something than people who wear red shirts. It may be a small difference, it may be a huge difference, but in general everything you do has some predictive power for something else you’ll do.
Historically, companies have only known five or six things about you. They knew maybe your race, your religious background, what school you attended, your income, your previous employment history, and then lawyers or politicians could determine what are companies allowed to use. If they know six things, well they can’t use these two things.
But now we’re entering a world where employers know a million things about you. They know everything on your social media, they know a lot of your purchase history, they know maybe things you’ve done on computers in various places. Many of these things are going to correlate with your likelihood of being a productive employee. There are random correlations people have found that if you like curly fries on Facebook, you’re more likely to be intelligent. Why? No clue, just everything correlates with everything. It’s some weird correlation. but you could imagine a world where employers would be wise to give you a downgrade if you don’t like curly fries, if you like straight fries instead of curly fries. I think the legal and ethical framework is not prepared for big data.
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