“I’M SOMEBODY WHO WRITES. I’M SOMEBODY WHO FUCKS. AND WEED IS A BIG PART OF IT.”
Mass incarceration, forced treatment, forced labor camps, and executions are unacceptable. International drug prohibition, with its racist American roots, is unacceptable. Human beings have a right to use drugs. The drug war is, and has always been, a tool of repression.
Acceptance is better than empathy, especially empathy that is getting it wrong. The thing you’re trying not to do? You’re doing it. We don’t hate you for it. We love that you’re trying. But you’ve just stopped us sharing. You’ve just shut it down. And I don’t think you meant to, I think you want to hear what I have to say. I think you care.
As I read Silberman’s book I could not prevent myself from thinking that the story of autism is, in many respects, an example of what can be achieved when society is tolerant. The story shows how intolerance achieved nothing. Research and development was held back or inappropriately diverted and people with autism, and those around them, were quashed. When tolerance increased, however, knowledge moved forward, progress was made and many were able to benefit by utilizing the strengths of people with autistic wiring.
There was one article that said that “the Internet is to autistic people what Braille was to the blind community and sign language was for the deaf community.” Not only that, but there was an autistic culture thriving on the Internet. A culture that supported each other through the difficult times in this profoundly non-autistic world that was not made for us.
We’re not building for just ourselves anymore. We’re a global society. Everyone is using our technology. There is a huge culture shift and focus on design for the next billion users and I think it’s a great direction. And guess what? Sometimes design requires contrast. That means we may need to have different people seated at the table to help us design. You might just have to hire that super poor person in the village you’re building for. It might just mean spending time living in the communities you are serving. It might mean better design for our products due to diversity of thought. I see nothing but wins when you consider research as a primary practice to help think more critically about the ethical and societal implications of the technologies we design in this world.
I think in general, people who work in tech, people who are engineers, are weird people. We are the people that are on the autism spectrum, we’re the people that struggle with anxiety and depression. So I feel like when I go to work, I’m working with people who, on some level, even if you don’t talk about it, they get it. They get when you’re having a hard time, they get whatever. Which is very different than I feel like working in some other sectors, because again, the people who developed good computer skills and learned how to talk and work with machines, are the people who didn’t have good people skills growing up [chuckles]. So they were the weirdos, with anxiety and depression, who didn’t want to go out and socialize and hang out at parties. They’re the people who just go home, and cuddle on the couch and watch TV every night. So I feel like tech has been a good place for me as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression.