German firm employs AI for recruitment


Talanx, a German insurance firm with over 20,000 global employees, has begun to employ new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to select candidates for vacant executive positions, German media reported on Friday.

Talanx relies on software developed by the Aachen-based start-up firm Precire, which substitutes costly multi-day assessment centers with a single computerized phone call. 

"The whole thing takes half an hour, costs around 1,000 euros (1,225 US dollars) and is entirely led by a computer," Talanx director Torsten Leue said.

Although hiring decisions are not based exclusively on the algorithms of the Precire program, they are used to filter out candidates before the interview stage. The AI software is hereby supposed to determine whether an interviewee would integrate well into the company on the basis of language analysis.

The language recognition capabilities of Precire were originally marketed at call-centers and temporary employment agencies and the program is currently also employed by Fraport, the operator of the Frankfurt International Airport, among others. 

Tina Voss, director of a temporary employment agency who has encountered the program, said that she considered it to be "as interesting as it is terrifying."

Voss noted that the use of intelligent machines in recruitment was still based on shaky legal foundations and argued that the Precire software should therefore only be used on a voluntary basis for now.

Nevertheless, she expected the technology to become more widespread in the future as it was "too simple and precise" to be overlooked by companies.

Christian Greb, CPO and co-founder of Precire, told Xinhua that the company plans to offer an English version of their product, for both native and non-native speakers, at the end of Q3 2018.

Building on their existing algorithms, Precire is also looking to develop more languages but the software "needs to learn every new language," Greb said.

Several experts have warned that the rise of digital automation in Germany raises serious moral and socio-economic questions, as evidenced by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal at the US social media company Facebook over the misuse of private user data.

Additionally, economists have highlighted that the growing use by companies of intelligent machines tasks could lead to significant jobs losses and increase pressure on policymakers to introduce a basic minimum income.