Artificial Intelligence in HR: the Basics You Need To Know

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man of the future – he was onto the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) way before everyone else. We’re talking about his 1984 embodiment of The Terminator of course. Once again, something that seemed possible only in science-fiction films or a very distant future, turned out to become reality. That is, the Artificial Intelligence part, not the killer- robot-with-laser-gun part, thank god.

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As with other technological developments, the HR industry wasn’t among the very first adapters of Artificial Intelligence. Slowly but surely though, awareness about AI in HR is increasing, and there has been a lot of speculation about its future potential and applications. It’s about time we had a closer look at Artificial Intelligence ourselves.


What is AI? That question seems a good starting point. A basic definition comes from Stanford researcher John McCarthy (back in 1956):

“Artificial intelligence is a sub-field of computer science. Its goal is to enable the development of computers that are able to do things normally done by people. In particular, things associated with people acting intelligently.”

A slightly more specific definition can be added to that:

“AI is an umbrella term for a number of different techniques and approaches. These include machine learning – which focuses on statistical analysis – deep learning, predictive modelling en predictive analytics.” Here you’ll find a good piece on how all of these are related to each other.

Right, at least now we know what it is we’re talking about. Within the field of AI, several distinctions can be made. In terms of the ‘intelligence’ of a system, there is the so-called strong AI, the weak AI and, what’s in a name, the in-between AI. The first type of Artificial Intelligence is aimed at truly simulating human intelligence. The second version of AI is purely aimed at getting systems to work – think of chess computers for example. The ‘in-between’ kind of artificial intelligence uses the way we humans think as a guide, but doesn’t aim to imitate it entirely. Here you can read more about those different types of Artificial Intelligence and find a few examples.

In Everyday Life

You might not be aware of it, but you’re already using AI on a daily basis. A lot. That news site you’re reading with your morning coffee? Chances are that some of the articles on it are written by artificial intelligence programs. That fantastic new series on Netflix you’ve just discovered? Probably ‘recommended’ to you by a simple AI system, based on things you’ve watched in the past. And for the iPhone users among us, let’s not forget about Siri, Apple’s version of the intelligent, digital personal assistant; another example of Artificial Intelligence. Here you’ll find some more everyday applications of AI.

To cut a long story short; there is a lo