The Algorithm

How AI Can Hijack Your Career and Steal Your Future

February 2024 9781805260981 336 pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


As featured in the New York Times ‘Top 5 Books on AI’

Artificial intelligence is being used, on a massive scale, to decide who gets hired, fired and promoted. Through whistleblower exclusives, leaked internal documents and astonishing real-world practices, journalist Hilke Schellmann reveals the secret rise of AI in the world of work. Testing them herself, she discovers that many algorithms making these high-stakes calculations do more harm than good, and traces their origins to troubling pseudoscientific ideas about people’s ‘true’ essence.

Interviewing experts, developers and ordinary workers, The Algorithm offers fascinating and alarming truths. From software analysing interviewees’ facial expressions and tone of voice, to video games assessing their performance, to ‘personality profiles’ built from candidates’ social media, almost all major employers use AI in recruitment. Programmes track their staff’s activity, group dynamics and physical health, identifying who is productive, a bully, worth long-term investment, or likely to quit. But can we trust them?

In a world of severe job insecurity, workplace algorithms are on the brink of dominating or even threatening us—if we don’t fight back.


‘Not only are many of the AI hiring tools based on troubling pseudoscience, they can also discriminate.’ Hilke Schellmann talks to Zoë Corbyn in the Observer about The Algorithm and how AI is invading the world of work. Read the full piece here.

‘The best available case study [of] … the use of artificial intelligence by human resource departments.’ — The New York Times

‘A cautionary tale for anyone who thought AI would take human bias out of hiring — and an essential handbook for job hunters.’ — Financial Times

‘Schellmann pulls the curtain back on the AI-driven “HR tech” revolution taking over hiring and managing employees, and finds tools that are arbitrary, ineffective, discriminatory and likely unlawful. Reads like a dozen scandals waiting to erupt.’ — Gavin Mueller, author of Breaking Things at Work

‘In The Algorithm, Hilke Schellmann has done the impossible: she has rendered the baffling ‘Wild West’ of AI immensely readable and approachable. Schellmann gives us the dark and hidden history of tech innovation and the marketplace through the stories of those whose lives have been smashed by its glitches.’ — Eliza Griswold, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Amity and Prosperity

‘A disturbing investigation into use of AI systems in hiring, firing, and employee surveillance.  As Schellmann demonstrates, AI has moved into crucial areas of our lives, but the process has been so fast and silent that its influence is almost invisible. She argues that HR managers should be required to understand how their algorithms work, and there must be greater human input to personnel decisions.  This eye-opening book makes it hard to disagree.’ — Kirkus Reviews

‘[An] enjoyable and disturbing read.’ — Morning Star

‘The author correctly identifies one major source of the problem as the monetary pressure involved in building AI tools.’ — Labour Hub 

‘Focuses on how the technology is already deployed in personnel decisions in the workplace — with alarming results.’ — Financial Times, ‘What to Read in 2024’

‘One of the most important topics of our time—one that impacts all of us more than we realise. The book takes a balanced approach to illuminating the current state of AI in the workplace. It’s not just about incredible benefits or doomsday scenarios, but a real look into the current state of these tools, the incentive systems driving their proliferation, the mixed results they provide, and how we might ensure better outcomes. Highly recommended.’ — Ryan Fuller, former vice president for workplace intelligence, Microsoft

‘The Algorithm provides a fresh, important perspective on how AI is changing many critical workplace decisions in organizations. Schellmann’s research is thorough and clever, and exposes the many of problems that AI and its proponents have already created for companies and employees.’ — David Futrell, former senior director of organization performance, Walmart

‘Hilke Schellmann was one of the first journalists to understand the dangers of AI passing judgement on workers, and The Algorithm is an absolutely vital book about the risks and harms of the systems already operating—on us—today.’ — Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus and Here Comes Everybody


Hilke Schellmann is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism professor at New York University. She has reported for HBO, NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, where her team investigated how AI is changing our lives. Her PBS documentary, Outlawed in Pakistan, won an Emmy.

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