Dr Suelette Dreyfus LCA Keynote

Dr Suelette Dreyfus gave an interesting LCA keynote speech on Monday (it’s online now for people who aren’t attending LCA [1]). One of the interesting points she made was regarding the greater support for privacy protection in Germany, this is apparently due to so many German citizens having read their own Stasi files.

The section of her talk about the technology that is being used against us today was very concerning. I wonder whether we should plan to move away from using any hardware or closed source software from the US, China, and probably most countries other than Germany.

We really need to consider these issues at election time. I have previously blogged some rough ideas about having organisations such as Linux Australia poll parties to determine how well they represent the interests of citizens who use Linux [2]. I think that such things are even more important now. Steven Levy wrote an interesting summary of the situation for Wired [3].

At the end of her talk Suelette suggested that Aspies might be more likely to be whistle-blowers due to being unable to recognise the social signals about such things (IE managers say that they won’t punish people for speaking out but most people recognise that to be lies). It’s a plausible theory but I’m worried that managers might decide to avoid hiring Aspies because of this. I wonder how many managers plan to have illegal activity as an option. But I guess that having criminals refuse to hire me wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

2 comments to Dr Suelette Dreyfus LCA Keynote

  • FC

    I find that Aspies tend to have more of a conscience and are far more likely to actually *do* something about an issue like this. So I am not very comfortable with the “Aspies might be more likely to be whistle-blowers due to being unable to recognise the social signals about such things” theory. It really bugs me when things are brought back to the ‘unable to recognise social signals’. Maybe people should consider that Aspies may be more likely to be whistle blowers because they see it as the right thing to do and hate the injustice? Or that perhaps they actually do fully understand the social signals and ramifications but are willing to go ahead and do it anyway, because it’s the *right thing to do*. Signed, Annoyed Aspie

  • Suelette Dreyfus

    Hi Annoyed Aspie,

    To clarify what I said was that one of the whistleblowers I had interviewed had special knowledge of Autism spectrum issues. *That person* had put the proposition that whistleblowers were more likely to be Aspie. I also said that the reasons for this were not just the social queues argument, but ALSO because Aspies tend to have much clearer, black and white views about right and wrong. This *may* contribute to them speaking up more.

    I don’t know if this hypothesis collected in my qualitative data is correct or not. I can certainly see it has some strengths as a hypothesis.

    What I *do* know from interviewing whistleblowers is that most are utterly unprepared for the backlash that an organisation may unleash on them if it doesn’t handle whistleblowing disclosures properly.

    Manager would be foolish to ‘stop hiring Aspies’. Far more sensible is to simply institute a good internal Integrity System (whistleblowing system). ;-)