Jun 17 · 3 min read

Introducing ‘Survival of the Best Fit,’ a Mozilla Creative Media Awardee

You’re the CEO of a rapidly-growing technology start up, and you just secured $2 million to expand your company. Congratulations!

To hire staff more quickly, you decide to automate the hiring process and use a machine learning algorithm to review resumes and identify the best candidates. But you quickly learn that replacing HR with AI doesn’t always mean better results — in fact, it can worsen existing bias against underrepresented applicants.

This is the premise behind Survival of the Best Fit, a new web-based interactive game that explains how machine learning software can be biased, specifically when used carelessly to automate hiring decisions.

A screenshot from Survival of the Best Fit

In the game, users act as CEO to train and deploy their hiring algorithm. Along the way, they learn how biased data sources, a lack of supervision, and the opacity of a machine’s decision-making process all present real challenges. For example: The player’s algorithm is trained using existing employees’ resumes. Since existing employees are mostly blue people, the algorithm learns to prioritize blue people over orange people. This reflects biases that could exist in real life, with an algorithm learning to prioritize male hires over female hires.

Survival of the Best Fit is created by four current students and recent alumni of NYU Abu Dhabi: Gabor Csapo, Miha Klasinc, Jihyun Kim, and Alia ElKattan. The project is supported by a Mozilla Creative Media Award.

Says Alia ElKattan: “Technology is an increasingly powerful decision-making force, so it’s crucial for the public to understand how AI can impact their lives. Survival of the Best Fit addresses this by focusing on the recent use of AI in hiring. This new development can actually worsen existing problems with bias, equality, and representation in the workplace — and have negative socio-economic repercussions.”

She continues: “We hope this project raises awareness about the need for software engineers to develop products that account for social and political factors.”

The team behind Survival of the Best Fit

Mozilla’s Creative Media Awards are part of our mission to support a healthy internet. They fuel the people and projects on the front lines of the internet health movement — from computer scientists in the United Arab Emirates to designers in the UK to digital artists in the Netherlands.

The latest cohort of Awardees uses art and advocacy to shine a light on the AI that influences our everyday lives. AI today is invisible to most of us, yet has an outsized impact: It influences what news we read, who we date, if we’re hired for that dream job, and whether or not we qualify for a loan or parole.

Says Mark Surman, Mozilla’s Executive Director: “Artificial intelligence is increasingly interwoven into our everyday lives. Mozilla’s Creative Media Awards seek to raise awareness about the potential of AI, and ensure the technology is used in a way that makes our lives better rather than worse.”

Learn more about upcoming Creative Media Award projects.

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