Autinomics (my phrase) a process, system and framework, dedicated to exploring how digital technology, hands on projects and collaboration can create new options in education, work and culture for neurodiverse (autistic) individuals. It also applies to neuro-typical (non-autistic) persons as well. For a great statement on this, see Tyler Cowen’s book “Create Your Own Economy.”
The “new” economy:” In his book, “Create Your Own Economy”, Cowens argues that the digital age means customizing your own life, creating your own economy of the imagination, unshackled from tedious bureaucratic structures and machine-age formats. For persons with autism, the 21st century promises a truer liberation to achieve their own goals and realize their own capabilities. “Economy” in this sense refers to networks of exchange for the mutual benefit of transactors. The things “exchanged” need not have conventional monetary value.
Some of this draws in some ways on his earlier work: “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist,” that draws on economic principles to explain quirky human behavior, choices, and ways to live a better life. An entertaining read, and not just in relation to autism.
Downsides and the need for balance: I am not sold on the digital world and economy as a panacea for all the things Cowen talks about. I maintain that the freedom of “the digital era” in turn can skew human contact, and impoverish spiritual and moral values. How often has one seen technology like cellphones crowd out face to face interaction. True, communication is enhanced in some ways, particularly across great distances, and in the variety and volume of information transmitted, but the downside is a growing impatience, less privacy, information overload, and replacement of “carbon unit” interaction and contact with less rich digital substitutes. The “connected world” is always “on”- offering less privacy, less time for spiritual contemplation, less patience, less nuance, less control over time, and eroding the traditional virtues of home and hearth.
A balance is needed- the old saw Winston Churchhill quipped about: technology being on tap, but not on top. The same principle applies to neuro-diverse and neuro-typical. The new options of the digital era must work in tandem with the “carbon” world, to offer a fully-satisfying life.