Legal, Moral, and Ethical Implications of Machine Learning for Personnel Management

April, 2023
IDA document: P-33087
FFRDC: Systems and Analyses Center
Type: Documents , Human Capital
Division: Strategy, Forces and Resources Division
Alan B. Gelder; Julie A. Lockwood; Cullen A Roberts; Ashlie M. Williams; Kathleen M. Conley; Rachel G. Augustine See more authors
Machine learning is increasingly used to synthesize and harness data in support of decision making processes. While machine learning models can be more powerful than other analytic techniques, they also have the potential to aggravate the risk that information is misused in decision making. This IDA paper attempts to clarify the foreseeable legal, moral and ethical risks of machine learning — as well as what can be done to mitigate these risks — when applied to personnel management processes. Although the primary focus is on the military setting, the underlying lessons apply broadly to personnel management in a variety of contexts. Building on key legal principles, normative and applied ethics and technological capabilities and constraints, we provide practical considerations and recommendations for using machine learning to support personnel management processes.