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Artificial Intelligence for HR: Separating the Potential from the Hype

This report aims to give HR and other business leaders a basic, nontechnical foundation in AI and a deeper understanding of what AI is and isn’t. With this knowledge, they can recognize AI hype in the marketplace and realistically assess where AI might make a difference in HR’s capabilities. With a grasp of the fundamentals of AI, HR will become a more valuable partner in thinking through the optimal mix of people and technology to deliver business results.


Stroll through the exhibition hall at an HR technology conference, and you encounter a vast array of digital solutions, many of which are touted as artificial intelligence (AI). Yet, strictly speaking, few of those products qualify as such, based on our gold-standard definition:

AI is technology that mimics human thinking by making assumptions, learning, reasoning, problem solving, or predicting with a high degree of autonomy.

That’s a definition that AI experts would subscribe to. But in the layperson’s world, the term AI is often applied more loosely to mean the use of computer systems or agents to perform any task that, up until now, humans had to do. The disconnect between the expert’s view and the popular one causes some confusion in the business world. AI is perhaps the hottest topic in business; yet, most of the so-called AI systems and tools that organizations use—including in HR—fall short of the gold standard. Rather than thinking about AI as a binary (i.e., yes/no) concept, therefore, it’s more useful to imagine AI as a range, with assisted intelligence at one end and autonomous intelligence at the other.


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Mary B. Young, D.B.A.

Principal Researcher, Human Capital
The Conference Board


Amy Lui Abel, PhD

Vice President, Human Capital Research
The Conference Board


Lyle Yorks, EdD

Distinguished Principal Research Fellow
The Conference Board

Ray, Rebecca 120 x 120.jpg

Rebecca L. Ray, PhD

Executive Vice President, Human Capital
The Conference Board






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