LLMs and neurodiversity

I hold two hypotheses, neither of them tested:

1. LLMs will on average give a big boost to autistics.

Autistics (or autists, as the term is now evolving) are used to communicating with “beings” whose minds work very differently.  So they will do relatively well working with LLMs.  Plus LLMs, in their current forms, are text-based, also a strength of many autistics.  Or if you are like Temple Grandin, and especially strong at images, Midjourney might be of great interest.  The general point is that autistics are used to “weird,” and used to dealing with “aliens.”

One friend of mine reports an autistic relative, who otherwise was not doing well, but who finds GPT a revelation and a wonderful learning tool.  More generally, you can think of autistics as people who are used to dealing with a lot of information.  LLMs provide that, and at whatever level of information density you request.

2. LLMs will on average give a big boost to ADHD individuals.

I view many ADHD individuals as very smart and able, but doing poorly when they cannot control the pace, intensity, and direction of their learning.  (Ever see people who can’t pay attention in class, or who nod off during academic lectures and can’t sit still?  But will work for hours on their own tasks?)  LLMs let you control the topic, the pace of the exchange, and just about everything else, including mood and tone.  You are the boss, and so ADHD individuals should benefit disproportionately from this.

Sriram Subramaniam writes to me:

  1. It’s great for people with ADHD to get things done: Lesser amount of concentrated attention is needed to ship stuff. I shipped a webapp (a game for my kids) in 2 hours yesterday. I have never programmed. I hang on hacker news and knew enough to prompt. With that knowledge, I could build and ship a game in 2 hours. I could hold my attention for 2 hours and that got me to a meaningful end state. Attention is all that matters as the founding paper said 🙂

I would frame some of that differently (see above), but the general observation is well-taken.

Any other hypotheses about LLMs and neurodiversity?


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