The Algorithm

February 2024 9781805260981 336 pp
Available as an eBook


Hilke Schellmann is an award-winning investigative reporter. In this book, she draws on whistleblower exclusives, leaked internal documents and astonishing real-world practices to reveal the secret rise of artificial intelligence in the world of work. AI is being used, on a massive scale, to decide who gets hired, fired and promoted. But Schellmann discovers that many algorithms making these high‑stakes calculations are biased or racist, and do more harm than good; and she traces their origins to troubling pseudoscientific ideas about a person’s ‘true’ essence.

Hearing from insiders, experts, developers, campaigners and ordinary workers, The Algorithm takes readers on a fascinating and alarming quest. From software analysing interviewees’ facial expressions and tone of voice, to video games used as performance assessment, to programmes constructing ‘personality profiles’ by scanning candidates’ social media, almost all major employers harness AI in their recruitment. Then they track their employees’ location, keystrokes, group dynamics, or even their physical health. ‘Robots’ are identifying who is productive, who is a bully, who is worth long-term investment, and who will probably quit. But can we trust them?

In a world of severe job insecurity, workplace algorithms are on the brink of dominating our lives and threatening our human future—if we don’t fight back.


Hilke Schellmann is an Emmy-winning investigative reporter and journalism professor at NYU. She has reported for HBO, NPR, The New York TimesThe Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, where she has led a team investigating how artificial intelligence is changing our lives. Her ‘extraordinary’ (Variety) documentary for PBS, Outlawed in Pakistan, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where The Los Angeles Times dubbed it ‘among the standouts’. It won an Emmy, an Overseas Press Club award and a Cinema for Peace award.

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