Yesterday, a doctor by the name of Sandra posted a comment on my blog about how she thought crowdsourcing could help disabled people particularly those with bipolar disorders get jobs online. If anyone in the crowd can contribute to a crowdsourcing initiative then even those with bipolar disorders should be able to do it, and they should be paid the same amount. It got me thinking about an article I read in the New York Times some months back on a non-profit startup called AspireTech was actually getting work for autistic adults not ‘despite’ them being autistic but because they were autistic. Autistic people are generally able to perform the same repetitive task over and over again without losing focus or getting lethargic, and they’re way more adapt at this than the rest of the general population.
This fundamental advantage they have makes them perfect for roles as software testers and even programmers. I always dread testing anything, especially when it’s doing the same thing over and over again, let try uploading a 5MB file, now a 10MB file, now a 100MB file…on and on and on. These test provide critical data for any software project but can be very very cumbersome to accomplish since they require repetitive work to be done over and over again with minimal variance. At least it’s hard for me to do, particularly since my wife says I’m not too good with instructions.Individual with autism are extremely adapt at this and they’ve proven their worth. In these areas autism is an asset not a liability.
Companies like Microsoft and Oracle are satisfied customers of AspireTech and they’re growing at a phenomenal rate. It’s a story everyone can relate to and feel inspired by, but there’s a catch. At the moment AspireTech provides staff for on-going management of AspireTech consultants, plus there is a program to help develop the autistic individuals and I presume it only applies to those with Aspergers and certain types of Autism i.e. it’s not available to autistic individuals across the spectrum. In short, the system is there, but it only helps those with milder versions of Autism and it still requires additional staff to help manage with autistic consultants. This in my mind is a limitation that would soon be overcome, although I don’t know how yet.
I wonder if there’s a way to crowdsource the collective efforts of the autistic community, across the spectrum of autism, and be able not just to provide them jobs , but to leverage on their unique skill sets and abilities to perform task at phenomenal rates. Is there a way we could break down software testing to something so simple as a click of a button, and then feed that data online, so that people can test the software for you? While the concept would be open to all, the autistic individuals would have a distinct advantage and be able to earn more from the system without having to leave the confines of their homes or neighborhoods (something some of them seem reluctant to do)?
picture taken from : http://www.flickr.com/photos/rayoom/3407009302/sizes/m/in/photostream/