In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Many posts have discussed programs to provide them with training and experience.
Businesses scrambling for artificial-intelligence talent are tapping an unusual resource: people with autism.
Ernst & Young LLP, Credit Suisse Group AG , Dell Technologies Inc., Microsoft Corp. , DXC Technology Co. and other companies are hiring autistic applicants for AI jobs through neurodiversity programs they have established. EY, a professional services firm, is also advising a dozen Fortune 500 companies on starting similar programs.
Autistic workers are often hyper-focused, highly analytical thinkers with an exceptional proficiency for technology, said several company officials who have hired people on the spectrum. Many are capable of working long hours on repetitive AI tasks, such as labeling photos and videos for computer-vision systems, without losing interest. Others have a high capacity for logical reasoning and pattern recognition, enabling them to systematically develop and test AI models.
Demand is soaring for workers with skills in AI, data science and related areas. CompTIA, a tech trade group, said in June that the IT jobless rate fell to 1.3% in May, a 20-year low, intensifying competition for scarce talent.
Meanwhile, many autistic adults lack jobs. About 42% of autistic students who had special education in high school had no paid job in the first six years after leaving high school, according to a 2015 study by Drexel University researchers.All good, but important to remember that not all autistic people are tech whizzes. Many have their strengths in other areas.