Robots: Your New Best Friend

Many people think robots will someday take their jobs. That might be true. But they're more likely to become colleagues and collaborators.

Robots are getting smarter, cheaper, faster, more empathic, and friendlier and are likely to appear more and more at a sick-care facility near you. They take a little getting used to, like the new neighbors next door, but, if you take some time to know them, they are really nice.

Research suggest 70% of people think robots will steal people's jobs, including their own. While that might be true in many cases, it is more likely that they will be colleagues or collaborators, helping you do your job better, more efficiently, and cheaper.

We've all heard strategies about sick-care workers "practicing at the top of their license". However, there are many things to be said about the opposite—moving down the value chain—but with the help of your new best friends.

According to computer scientists who are, in a sense, robotic anthropologists, getting along will take some getting used to by:

• Giving robots social skills to improve work efficiency.

• Being careful when robots give people commands and recommendations.

• Developing a strategy for empathy toward robots.

• Watching for social issues between people and robots.

It also seems that people attribute gender stereotypes to robots that are perceived as being male or female, applying traditional gender roles to them, and men and women likewise interact differently with male or female robots.

The brave new world of work will have some new participants. Soon, you will be able to bring your robotic pet to work. As you read this, your HR cyborg is about to announce your company's policies on robodating.

HINT: It's OK as long as he or she is not under your direct supervision and whatever you do, it has to be done in the privacy of your own home. Think you can do that?