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The Latest from the Talent Tech Industry

January 4-10, 2021: Paradox acquires Israeli chatbot Spetz.io, Employers say that recruiting is their top concern in2021, DOL clarifies the definition of an independent contractor, Big Tech continues its talent grab this time in AI, Google workers form a union, and Sony introduces an AI-powered TV that mimics the human brain. The beat goes on.

Paradox Acquires Israeli Chatbot Spetz.io to Accelerate Innovation and Expand Global Client Service Capabilities

Paradox, the leading conversational AI platform helping global talent acquisition teams automate recruiting tasks like screening, interview scheduling, and candidate communications, announced today the acquisition of Spetz.io, an Israeli startup helping clients like EY and Sodastream modernize candidate communications. Founded in Tel Aviv in 2017, Spetz has quickly developed a reputation as a product-led, client-centric startup in Israel — a country with a rich history of building world-class AI and machine learning technologies. The acquisition highlights Paradox’s strategic investment in global innovation and world-class client services, said Paradox founder and CEO Aaron Matos. But it wasn’t just about creating another R&D center. Just as important, Matos said the Spetz team’s vision, mission, and values closely aligned with Paradox.

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Recruiting Is Top HR Concern in 2021

Recruiting and hiring while the nation struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic is HR professionals’ top concern going into 2021, according to new research. Talent acquisition professionals will have their hands full, as unemployment is expected to remain high and a majority of people in the labor force expect to look for a new job despite, or possibly due to, the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Online HR resource site XpertHR asked 563 U.S. employers in September 2020 to rate expected workplace challenges in 2021 and found that recruiting and hiring sits at the top of the list, followed by workforce planning and workplace health and safety.

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DOL Clarifies Definition of Independent Contractor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule on Jan. 6 clarifying who is an independent contractor versus an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule is slated to take effect March 8, although its future in the Biden administration remains uncertain. “The rule is significant because it creates greater clarity and certainty for all stakeholders,” said Steven Pockrass, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Indianapolis. The FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions don’t apply to independent contractors, but court decisions as to who is an independent contractor under the FLSA have been inconsistent, he noted.

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13 acquisitions highlight Big Tech’s AL talent grab in 2020

It’s no secret that Big Tech has for years nabbed top technology talent through product acquisitions and acqui-hires. In fact, this is something the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently looking into through ongoing antitrust investigations. So it should come as little surprise that Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet (FAAMG) have also engaged in an AI talent arms race that involves dangling millions of dollars in front of some of best technical minds. In 2019, the Big 5 snapped up no fewer than 14 AI-related startups between them, spanning everything from ecommerce and driverless cars to education and customer service. This year was no different, with FAAMG acquiring a similar number of AI-powered businesses from around the world.

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Google Workers Form Union to “Reclaim Power”

Well, it finally happened. Google workers have unionized. The move is especially noteworthy because the professional workforce of Silicon Valley isn’t exactly a union hotbed. Nonetheless, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) formed today to “protect Alphabet workers, our global society, and our world. We promote solidarity, democracy, and social and economic justice.” The birth of AWU is also noteworthy given that Google had recently hired an anti-union consulting firm to help manage agitation among its people. What’s more, just last month, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Google, claiming that the company discouraged “its employees from forming, joining, assisting a union or engaging in other protected, concerted activities.”

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Sony’s new AI-powered TVs ‘mimic the human brain’

Sony has unveiled a new lineup of Bravia TVs that “mimic the human brain” to replicate how we see and hear. The devices use a new processing method that Sony calls “cognitive intelligence.” The company says it goes beyond standard AI to create an immersive visual and sound experience: While conventional AI can only detect and analyze picture elements like color, contrast, and detail individually, the new Cognitive Processor XR can cross-analyze an array of elements at once, just as our brains do. By doing so, each element is adjusted to its best final outcome, in conjunction with each other, so everything is synchronized and lifelike — something that conventional AI cannot achieve.

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