Could British Workers be Forced to Negotiate Pay with AI Chatbots?

AI handshake

Workers could soon be asked to negotiate contracts and pay rises with artificial intelligence robots to get a better deal. 

An Estonian technology firm, Pactum, has designed an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that is capable of bartering with employees over their contracts.

Pactum says that the robot will be able to find the best deal for both parties by factoring in considerations such as holiday allowance, contract terms, and location. The company claims that its AI is ‘unbiased’ and cannot be influenced by gender, ethnicity, age or social class.

Negotiating with a robot could be less stressful than dealing with a human, the company suggested.

“We’ve all felt stress during job interviews,” said Pactum co-founder Kaspar Korjus. “If I’m going to hire you, and I’m going to ask for the salary you want, it’s a huge stress straightaway. You don’t know what to say, or how to say it.”

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The technology, which is backed by tech giants Skype and Transferwise, works by asking employees a series of questions they can respond to via an app.

“For example, I might be ready to give you a higher salary if I were considering 10 other factors like your title, whether you can get more free holiday days or whether you can work at home on Friday,” said Korjus.

The AI will then present them with an offer based on their responses, which they can then reject or accept at their leisure. In addition to reducing anxiety, the tool also reduces the time it takes for businesses to negotiate individual contracts for employees.

Korjus said he hopes the tech will help level the playing field for employees. At present, it is being applied to contract negotiations within businesses, however, the company believes its applications can be expanded in the future to help employees negotiate a pay rise.

Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a pay rise, and when women do negotiate, on average they ask for 30% less than men, according to Carnegie Mellon University. Potentially Pactum’s tech could help address this issue by making it a less stressful and biased process.

Korjus added: “In 20 years time you see that humans are not involved in contract negotiations anymore. Humans think about strategy and execution part will be done by AI.”

While some have expressed concerns over the impersonal nature of the tech, other big companies are already applying AI to their hiring process.

Last month, it emerged that Unilever was using AI to analyse the language, tone and facial expressions of potential candidates when they were asked a set of identical job questions, which they filmed on their mobile phone or laptop.



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