“Until you try to regulate, you won’t learn how”: Julia Stoyanovich discusses responsible AI for The New York Times


The ethical AI expert weighs in on a New York City law that will regulate the use of the technology in the hiring process

CDS Associate Professor, Julia Stoyanovich

Regulating AI has proven to be quite challenging for lawmakers and AI experts alike. While governments and international organizations have developed broad frameworks and approaches for safeguarding the use of the technology in society, New York City is among the first to nail down the details.

The city passed a law in 2021 set to go into effect this July that outlines restrictions on the use of AI in hiring and promotion decisions. Companies using AI in hiring processes will now be required to notify candidates. The technology will be audited annually by an independent party looking specifically at biases in the system. Candidates can also request information about what data is collected by AI. To enforce the law companies that don’t follow these rules will face financial consequences.

The law has received criticism for being impractical and not going far enough, highlighting the challenge of striking a balance between interest groups in AI regulation. There are also concerns that certain loopholes within the law might weaken its effectiveness.

“It’s much better than not having a law,” said CDS Associate Professor Dr. Julia Stoyanovich, in a recently published New York Times article “A Hiring Law Blazes a Path for A.I. Regulation”. “Until you try to regulate, you won’t learn how.”

Julia’s research interests focus on AI ethics and legal compliance, data management and AI systems, and computational social choice. Through engaging in academic research, technology regulation, and speaking on the benefits and harms of AI, her goal is to make “Responsible AI” synonymous with “AI”.

In addition to her role at CDS, she is an Institute Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering for NYU Tandon School of Engineering and founding director of the Tandon Center for Responsible AI, which seeks to advance a socially responsible approach to the technology. Julia is engaged in technology regulation in the US and internationally, having served on the New York City Automated Decision Systems Task Force, by mayoral appointment, among other roles. A MS and PhD graduate in Computer Science from Columbia University, her work has been supported by the US National Science Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, JP Morgan Chase, and Meta Responsible AI, among others.

Julia was active in deliberations leading up to the adoption of the hiring law and carried out several public engagement activities when the law was initially proposed. Julia’s public testimony regarding the adoption of the hiring law before the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection was given from CDS during a lecture for her Responsible Data Science course.

While the law only applies to companies with workers in NYC, it is expected to influence the national response to AI. California, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and the District of Columbia are working on legislation around the use of AI in hiring, while Illinois and Maryland have enacted laws restricting the use of specific AI technologies, according to the New York Times.

As more state governments begin to address the issue of regulating AI within society, for many these new laws raise more questions than they answer. More remains to be seen about who is affected by AI technologies, the benefits and harms it produces, and the best ways to institute interventions. “Without a concrete use case, you are not in a position to answer those questions,” said Julia for The New York Times.

Julia has written extensively about data ethics having co-authored over 100 academic publications along with “Data, Responsibly” and “We are AI” comic book series. For a more detailed analysis of the hiring law, she has written about the auditing and disclosure requirements in the Wall Street Journal, “Hiring and AI: Let Job Candidates Know Why They Were Rejected” and The New York Times, “We Need Laws to Take On Racism and Sexism in Hiring Technology.”

By Meryl Phair



NYU Center for Data Science

Official account of the Center for Data Science at NYU, home of the Undergraduate, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs in Data Science.