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July 10, 2009

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If Baron-Cohen is right that there is the huge reserve of highly successful autistic achievers, I wonder why there hasn't been some kind of online, Craigslist-type sorting website that seeks to place autistic people with the things in which they specialize or some kind of wider texting that seeks to identify and help autistic people find their niches.

The answer is because there is a huge stigma attached to being labeled "mentally ill." It would be nice if neurodiversity were embraced by society at large, and this books fits nicely with that project, but we are not there.

Given how people tend to conceal their quirks, you have to get to know people in person to see these effects. There is at least one prominent Obama Administration official who I would guess has been or could be diagnosed with Asperger's.

The other angle to this is that I think Asperger's is probably more treatable than we recognize yet. It's just that we haven't found the key levers to pull to affect neuroplasticity in this regard. The observation that RSS readers can make us "more autistic" might be useful. I haven't read the book so I'll withhold judgment until then, but I'm skeptical in general of this claim. It seems that autism is associated with highly efficient processing of very particular stimulus (clocks, e.g.); RSS can "feed" into that if you will. But RSS also connects us to more stimulus if we sweep broadly. (189 feeds here).

I agree with you that the stimgatization of Asberger's can be very high, but I imagine then that the returns must therefore be equally high. What's to stop some enterprising entrepreneur from serving as the middle man between the people who need the skills of Autistics and the people who have those skills? I can't simply be the stigmatization factor...

why would someone with asbergers care about social stigma?

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The comments seem to be talking all around the question but not addressing the heart of the entreprenurial debate. The issue should be: How to get state capital around the financial logjam and into the hands of the entrepreneur.

Supercomputing has been a major part of my education and career, from the late 1960s when I was doing atomic and molecular calculations as a physics doctorate student at the University of Chicago, to the early 1990s when I was general manager of IBM's SP family of parallel supercomputers.

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