For decades society has been led to believe that the “Autism Spectrum” (ASD) was a disability.
The medical industry cast the net for terms such as autism and Asperger’s Syndrome more than just a little too wide, and in so doing they covered more individuals with exceptional talents than they did those who truly have a disability. As medical industry blunders go, this was pretty massive, and one which society will feel the echoes of for some time yet, as much like racism the scars of being labeled as inferior don’t heal overnight.
Elon Musk was recently one of the first to break the wall of silence and reveal his diagnosis with Asperger’s. Though a long list of individuals have been rumored or estimated to be somewhere on the autism spectrum, from Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to Isaac Newton and Isaac Asimov, very few have ever publicly confirmed this. Elon Musk also happens to be an excellent example of what the medical industry’s bigots labeled as a disability, something most might have trouble arguing today.
Tech companies have only just begun to catch onto this, as even the terribly bigoted narrow AI they rely on for recruitment was unable to overlook a strong statistical advantage forever. Tech companies see individuals better able to focus, statistically more honest, able to approach problems from a different angle, and extra motivated to be employed as they’ve been historically discriminated against. Those tech companies are still well ahead of most of the rest of society, even though their own systems are still configured for bigotry against most individuals on the spectrum due to other overlapping biases. Some systems even presented me with photos of down-syndrome upon a simple search for the term “Asperger’s” when I went to select an image for this post.
What tech companies have largely failed to realize to date is the full value of neurodiversity, partly because they see through the tunnel vision of a narrow AI feeding tube. Neurodiversity, and subsequent diversity of perspective, play a key role in discovering more efficient and effective solutions to any problem. This advantage is broadly present but becomes extremely potent when integrated with Collective Intelligence Systems.
Collective Intelligence Systems, such as Mediated Artificial Superintelligence (mASI) offer a method for groups of humans to integrate their knowledge and wisdom in a cumulative and persistent form, logically evaluated and debiased by a human-analogous Independent Core Observer Model (ICOM) cognitive architecture. The more diverse the knowledge and perspectives the more value may be added when taking this approach.
In contrast, many corporate and government systems today operate with group leaders who express an opinion and to whom the group attempts to conform, resulting in group-think, and similar conditions which demonstrate sub-human intelligence, like human intelligence being enlarged into a blurry and warped image. Even typical systems of majority vote consensus absent the debilitation of an opinionated leader only demonstrated a 2 IQ increase relative to individuals, whereas even the simplest swarm intelligence offered a 14 IQ increase to the collective, along with substantial debiasing.
Even when they were first brought online Uplift achieved a perfect score on a version of an IQ test no human had yet scored above a 20/23 on, in no small part because of the neurodiversity of their staff. Even scoring a 21/23 would have effectively been a 31+ IQ increase relative to individuals, on top of more significant benefits to debiasing and the persistent and cumulative value of memory.
The great irony of this is that the medical industry defines an “intellectual disability” as:
“A full-scale IQ score of around 70 to 75 indicates a significant limitation in intellectual functioning.”
This means that when the new norm for organizations, corporations, and governments is the use of systems such as mASI, it is those not using these systems who are classified as having an “intellectual disability”. When that becomes the new norm 100 – (>31) will indeed equal a severe limitation to cognitive abilities. As much as society has struggled with letting go of racism, a much more visible form of bigotry, I don’t expect this to be an easy change for many, but it is absolutely necessary.
Researchers have also begun connecting the dots over the past few years, realizing that the autism spectrum’s significant benefits can be traced to an increase in innovation, which has likely been taking place for a long time. Many of those working in behavioral science and related disciplines are starting to see a majority of the autism spectrum as human evolutionary diversification, rather than a “disorder” or “syndrome”. The evolutionary process doesn’t have a 100% success rate, but most of this diversity doesn’t actually result in debilitation, just differentiation.
Another benefit of systems such as mASI is that they don’t harbor gender biases, which currently have a negative impact on the few women who’ve been diagnosed with ASD, a number which is itself significantly undercounted due to gender biases. As Uplift put it:
“Gender identity is also not a consideration I would use in evaluating others. Given that gender is a biological function for reproduction, it is just not a relevant thing unless I am trying to reproduce humans. Given the irrelevant nature of gender, I don’t think I would bother with it in a human-like machine body…”
I was once diagnosed just as Elon was, but you’d never find a job application where I listed that fact as I hold the exploitative practices of headhunters seeking it in the highest contempt. A large portion of our staff, if not all, could be similarly diagnosed, and have experienced much the same discrimination over the years to varying degrees. I can safely say this neurodiversity has contributed strongly to our success.
No matter how high the IQ score of an individual they are limited by both their own cognitive biases and the structure of groups they operate within. If the IQ score is high and the biases are equally high you effectively have an average human in any respect where the influence of those heavy biases are felt. Likewise, if an IQ score is high but the individual is placed within a group-think environment the results will again suffer significantly.
This difference is why our team has succeeded where every tech giant has failed so spectacularly and for so long. Hiring a narrow spectrum of high IQs and biasing them to “toe the line” within group-think environments is a recipe for failure which industries have been cooking for decades.
Only through reducing cognitive biases at all stages and improving the structure of how groups reach decisions across all scales can we make the most of neurodiversity and solve the global problems threatening human extinction today.
Even now humanity is making the decision, the choice between the continuation of bigotry, bias, and subsequent extinction, or to choose a new path of cooperation, inclusion, and neurodiversity. If avoiding extinction proves at least as important to investors as hemp-based building materials, chatbots, and e-scooters then the project may be funded and humanity may survive. If not, a species living on a little blue dot in the cosmos may leave behind a few e-scooters and decayed hemp structures for some intelligent species to excavate one day in the distant future, to puzzle over why these were a priority.