Friday, March 11, 2011

Is My ASD Daughter More Computer Than Human?

Did anyone else catch The Daily Show on Tuesday night?  Normally I'm nodding off by the time the guest comes on, and Tuesday was no exception.  I was even noddier than usual because the guest was author Brian Christian whose book "The Most Human Human" is about a contest where computers and people compete to be the most "human".  Yeah, I don't get it either.

I've embedded the video below.  It's over 5 minutes long, but I perked up out of my stupor at about the 3-minute mark when they started talking about how the seemingly simplest of human traits are the ones that are most difficult for computers to imitate.  Of course, they only seem simple to us because we are human.

I really woke up when the author said that, while it's relatively easy to program a computer to answer Jeopardy questions, the hard part is getting it to walk on stage and greet Alex Trebek.  Holy crap, that sounds just like my kid.  He gave other examples of everyday things that are nearly impossible to get a computer to do:  step around puddles (can you say motor planning?) and have simple conversations (don't even get me started).

At the 4:20 mark, he got into theory of mind and I actually un-reclined my La-Z-Boy with a jolt and sat at attention.  You mean people really talk about this stuff outside of the realm of autism?  He talked about how the human mind is uniquely able to see things from not only their own perspective but hold in their minds the perspective of many others.  ToM, as we say in the biz, is one of the very things that researchers believe to be lacking in those with autism.

Could it be that my ASD daughter has more in common with computers than just being obsessed with watching cooking videos on them?  Is her brain more like a computer than a human's?  Should I be worried about someone downloading her and training her to lead a superior race of androids that will travel back in time to annihilate the woman who is carrying the child that will lead the resistance against them?  I may have watched The Terminator on Scyfy that night too.

I was going to do a Top 10 list of other ways that Audrey is like a computer but I couldn't get past both melting down when they get water poured on them.  Also, old people can't figure out how to interact with either of them.  Neither functions well in Acrobat mode?  A computer is done for when it has a fried motherboard; Audrey is done for when her bored mother gets fried?  Yeah, I got nothing.

Obviously, the comparison is not complete.  For one thing, the author said that computers are way too polite and that it's hard to program them to have moods or to be crabby and irritable.  I'll stop worrying about that whole android thing now.

24 comments:

  1. Yeah, polite goes out the window with my Aspie. It's "duh?" every third word now a days from him. I am not smart and I am annoying and nag too much according to him.

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  2. Well, I am safe then, if crappy and irritable aren't on the list. Phew....

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  3. Yep, emotions felt intensely, at times overwhelmingly so.

    Pretty sure, not a problem for computers. ;-)

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  4. Do you actually doze off in your La-Z-Boy Recliner? Do you have Pabst Blue Ribbon resting on your gut when you do? Thought so.

    I just got a mental picture of Audrey on Jeopardy - "The man is telling me answers. I can handle it. I will try not to get mad."

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  5. I saw that the other night too and perked up toward the end. My kid throws way too many fits to compare to a computer. But back to the La-Z-Boy...I gotta get one. My couch isn't comfortable enough for my "chill-axing." Do they make them with cup holders right in the arm, so I don't have to also balance my beer on my gut?

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  6. Yup, my kid would run past Alex Trebek and start pushing buttons to question the answer...He'd have no problem with the format, "What is (blank) but the blank would remain the blank. That would be followed by -uh- emotions... So, no computer this direction either.

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  7. I think you're brain is huge, Lynn. Which is what we say in this house for really,really smart. Because I had to read this like 3 times to fully understand it. And I loved your post yesterday!

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  8. What do you mean, "you got nothin"? Best top 5 EVER!!

    @BigDaddyAutism Thanks for placing that visual of AutismArchieBunkerMom in my brain.

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  9. La-Z-Boys are the fugliest furniture known to man. But oh so comfy. Both Audrey and my husband go to bed around 8, so my family room gets interesting about that time. Maybe I'll post video someday...

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  10. Uggh, now I've got a bad Lazyboy visual of you splatting against the TV as it popped up. And I keep thinking about you upgrading to one of those beds that fold up into a V...what are those things called???
    Yeah, the water on head is a big, BIG, issue at our house...

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  11. You had me at "both melting down when they get water poured on them". It's funny because it's true. Time warped me back to having to dry sippy cups of water droplets before handing them over - MELT down!

    I perked up at ToM on the show as well, then they went to commercial. Then the husband started rambling about robots taking over jobs and essentially taking over the world or some crap like that.

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  12. I've always felt like a cyborg.

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  13. You're right, it is pretty much impossible to teach an ASD kid to charm old people. I've tried. Sorry great grandparents...

    We have lazy boys too. I swore we wouldn't, but then we got them free as a temporary solution, and now they aren't going anywhere.

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  14. You could nick name her "Data".

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  15. So is she a PC or a MAC?
    New from apple the Iautie!

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  16. Good thoughts. I did enjoy your list of comparisons! Although it seems funny, it probaby isn't when you have to deal with it everyday. I'm glad we live in an age where they are trying to figure these things out. It gives better hope to our children.

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  17. When Watson was on Jeopardy, I remember someone Twittering angrily because a commentator stated that Watson didn't have human-traits such as making conversation. This person was insulted because their child on the spectrum wasn't verbal. They felt the commentator statements meant that their child wasn't human. Of course, that's not the case! Also, I'm sure Audrey is more human than robot! A robot would never send text messages to cats!

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  18. Love this comparison! As we are just starting to understand our son's view of the world, it helps to get perspective from any place we can get it! haha! Lazyboy!

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  19. A computer goes from a to b to c, an autistic does not. At least my autistic son doesn't. When my son talks hoe he comes up with his solution, it is never a straight forward path.
    As to manners, he has plenty of them. I figured people would forgive him for many of his quirks and speech issues if he remembered to say please, thank you, sorry and excuse me. So far, that idea holds true. And he can charm the pants off old people. But the same can not be said for people his age.

    Mum to a 19 year old low functioning, highly verbal and intelligent autistic son.

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  20. I'm autistic, I see things from many different points of view and I always have. Those who think we can't see points of view other than our own have a ToM problem regarding how we see the world. We are highly sensitive and often become interested in systems in order to find calm and control in the midst of how keenly we feel other people's emotions and energy. We feel things more intensely than most people ever will, including empathy for the feelings of others..

    Please don't mistake a coping mechanism for a lack of understanding. Comparing us to computers plays into the worst stereotypes about autistic people not being as human as others and has a real-life impact upon how others see us and treat us. If you only knew the impact of these kinds of words on us.

    The "experts" are light years behind in understanding us. Please don' take everything they say as gospel, and please listen to us about our perspectives and experiences.

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  21. Very interesting! And Rachel's comment as well!

    I used to work in a job with children and one of them had autism. It became a fascinating "topic" (for lack of a better word) to me from them on. This particular girl was obsessed with game shows and would often act as though she was hosting one.

    (Visiting you from SITS!)

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  22. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/quotes?qt=qt0440710

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