When we think background checks and Facebook, we're usually thinking about beer bong pictures and other sophmoric behavior designed to tell us that the candidate has basic judgment issues, right?
We're certainly not thinking about predictive analytics designed to guess the probability of disease, pregnancy and the presence of things like insomnia and migraines. But if you think about what's going on with big data these days, why wouldn't that happen? Read this from Monday Note and ponder:
Tina Porter’s resumé popped up thanks to LinkedIn Expert, the social network’s high-end professional service. LinkedIn, too, developed its own technology to data-mine resumés for specific competences. Tina’s research on trade disputes between Korea and the United States caught everyone’s interest at Wilson, McKenzie. That’s why her “3D Resumé” — a Narrative Data trademark — is on the top of the pile, that is displayed on a large screen in the meeting room.
Narrative’s Marcus Chen does the pitch:
“Tina Porter, 26. She’s what you
need for the transpacific trade issues you just mentioned, Alan. Her
dissertation speaks for itself, she even learned Korean…”
“But?…” Asks the HR guy.
“She’s afflicted with acute migraine. It occurs at least a couple of times a month. She’s good at concealing it, but our data shows it could be a problem”, Chen said.
“How the hell do you know that?”
“Well, she falls into this particular Health Cluster. In her Facebook babbling, she sometimes refers to a spike in her olfactory sensitivity — a known precursor to a migraine crisis. In addition, each time, for a period of several days, we see a slight drop in the number of words she uses in her posts, her vocabulary shrinks a bit, and her tweets, usually sharp, become less frequent and more nebulous. That’s an obvious pattern for people suffering from serious migraine. In addition, the Zeo Sleeping Manager website and the stress management site HeartMath — both now connected with Facebook – suggest she suffers from insomnia. In other words, Alan, we think you can’t take Ms Porter in the firm. Our Predictive Workforce Expenditure Model shows that she will cost you at least 15% more in lost productivity. Not to mention the patterns in her Facebook entries suggesting a 75% chance for her to become pregnant in the next 18 months, again according to our models.”
“Not exactly a disease from what I know. But OK, let’s move on”.
I stop here. You might think I’m over the top with this little tale. But the (hopefully) fictitious Narrative Data Inc. could be the offspring of existing large consumer research firms, combined to semantic and data-mining experts such as Recorded Future. This Gothenburg (Sweden)-based company — with a branch in… Cambridge, Mass. – provides real time analysis of about 150,000 sources (news services, social networks, blogs, government web sites). The firm takes pride in its ability to predict a vast array of events (see this Wired story).
Ugh. It stands to reason this is where it goes related to the impact of big data and HR. Is a predictive modeler that shows probability that someone has insomnia and migraines or will get pregnant illegal?
Is it moral? It's a probability index. Let's say that probability index was modeled together to give you a productivity and ability to execute score rather than talking about specific things. Maybe the ability to innovate. What then?
What if you use a consultant rather than any type of metrics to give you some plausible deniability?
Going to be an interesting next 5 years, to say the least. My guess is that high-end firms that can pay the frieght for this type of hypothetical service will be the first to experiment and use these types of predictive analytics, and we'll eventually see it play out in the courtroom.