Welcome to the World Autism Made

One of the areas in which autistic people seem to excel is computers. A large percentage (perhaps most) of computer programmers are on the spectrum. Silicon Valley is covered in autistic people. Although I never learned to program, I’ve been online since before the World Wide Web. I started on GopherSpace. Most of my interactions with others have been online, and I even used the internet to meet my wife–using eHarmony.

Now, it may seem odd that there is a group of people who don’t do well in regular society but who seem well-adapted to computers. I mean, it’s not like computers are in nature, creating evolutionary pressures. And they haven’t been around long enough to create any selective advantages.

However, one thing we forget about species is that they are not only adapted to their environment, but they adapt the environment to themselves. In Africa, there are two species of elephants–the forest elephant and the (more familiar) savanna elephant. The latter have a tendency to push over trees. Might there be savannas where the savanna elephants are because those elephants create savannas?

Let me list a few people who we either know or suspect had autism, and their specialty.

Isaac Newton — founder of modern physics, inventor of calculus
Charles Babbage — computer
Alexander Graham Bell — inventor of the telephone
Thomas Edison — inventor
Nikola Tesla — inventor (esp. of alternating current–AC)
Norbert Wiener — information theory
Alan Turing — mathematician, computer scientist
Bill Gates — software

One could make the argument that autistic people created the very computer environment autistic people are most comfortable in.

In fact, there is pretty good evidence that most of the science, technology, and arts you enjoy are the products of autistic minds.

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