This is the third and final article of a three part series on Autism and Technology. Our focus here is to spotlight a very controversial area which has the potential to impact the lives of millions around the globe. That is, job creation and ultimately will robots replace human workers in the job market of the future. What role will robots play within the future employment arena, and more importantly, how secure is your job status? These are the questions we will address within the context of this emotionally charged topic.
The intent of this series has been to raise awareness about robotic technology and the speed of development within the field. Our tendency is to view new technology as parallax, but actually we are closer to living in a high-tech reality than we realize. What does all this mean and how will the new world of work look like with robots as an integral part of the landscape? For some, the issue hits closer to home as they contemplate if their job will be eliminated because of technology. The short, and most accurate, response to that question is simply – maybe.
First, it is important to emphasize the fact that there will not be a mass insurrection by robots – as seen in the movies. That is not based in reality primarily because technology really is in its nascent stage. Upon closer examination, we will more likely see a blend of humans working alongside robots. Obviously, we are experiencing this trend at the present time in the automotive, manufacturing, and in some cases the hospitality industries. It is probable the use of robots will expand to health care and segments of the food service fields. In most cases, robots are often the solution involving job openings which are difficult to fill. This seems to occur in industries requiring specialized digital skills or areas that call for rapid paced repetitive tasks. Another key factor influencing the use of robots in industry is simply a matter of economics. Some departments or areas of production are more efficient to operate having robots perform duties once assigned to humans.
The 21ST century worker must be prepared to constantly upgrade skills in order to remain attractive for employers. Companies are seeking individuals who possess digital skills and have the capacity to see the big picture. Some analysts predict developing new skills will be essential to continued career growth in order to keep pace with advancements in technology. This does not mean returning to college for another degree, but adapting a new skill or participating in a one day seminar related to a specific topic in a chosen field. For autistic employees, robots may serve in a complementary role offering assistance in communication and social awareness. The emphasis, however, is on collaboration between humans and machines as a means of maximizing productivity. Sadly, there is a human element contributing to the increased reliance on robotic production that can’t be ignored. That is drug use, particularly opioid addiction, and the devastation it creates on the corporate bottom line. Due to the negative impact of drugs in the workplace, some employers have chosen to automate.
The best strategy for both present and future employment is to sharpen skills and diversify talents to avoid being the proverbial “one trick pony.” One area in need of outstanding talent involves jobs requiring diminishing soft skills that companies love. The ideal employee has the rare combination of excellent technical skills and impeccable people or social skills. Global corporations are craving social skills and are bringing in consultants to teach employees the nuances of communications, professionalism, and the finer points of human interactions. Importantly, these are examples of perfecting the human touch, as opposed to solely focusing on robots. In conclusion, robots will have a designated place in offices and homes in the future, but only we have the innate capacity to be uniquely human.