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Businesses Programming Idle

Autism Traits Prove Valuable for Software Testing 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-got-99-problems-but-a-glitch-aint-one dept.
Back in 2009 we ran a story about a Chicago based non-profit company that trained high-functioning autistic people to be software testers. Two years later Aspiritech has grown to offer services in Belgium, Japan and Israel. Autistic debuggers are used by large clients like Oracle and Microsoft and have proven to be so good in fact that companies are now recruiting to meet demand. From the article: "Aspiritech's board of directors includes social service providers, therapists, a vocational expert and a software engineer. The nonprofit also received start-up advice and consultation from Keita Suzuki, who has co-founded a similar company, called Kaien, in Japan. Aspiritech has hired and trained seven recruits with Asperger's syndrome. These recruits have since worked on software-testing projects for smartphone and cloud-computing applications. Aspiritech now offers functional-, compatibility- and regression-testing, as well as test-case development, with experience in cloud-computing platforms including Salesforce."
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Autism Traits Prove Valuable for Software Testing

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  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @07:05PM (#37619578) Homepage Journal

    do well at software testing. That's really the story here. Autism is irreverent. This very idea is based upon a lot of wrong information about people with Autism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @07:17PM (#37619876)

    Wish I could mod you up.

    Hollywood's sensationalism has brought us the comic-book idea of what is essentially "game balance" in real life. In real life, you don't gain magical super powers just because you're blind and you aren't somehow a super-genius just because you're shy, introverted and obsessed with details. Autism is not a romantic backstory about how a young boy was crippled at an early age and then developed his mental powers to overcome this weakness. One does not gain flaws for points to spend on buying new character features in real life.

    It's pretty despicable to see this idea being perpetuated, this dramatic blurb about tortured backroom cripples using their super powers for good... Just stop it.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @07:51PM (#37620536)
    Maybe it's over-self-diagnosed, but there's a proper clinical diagnosis, and it's a serious condition. The person with Asperger's does have significant strengths, though, and they tend to align with technology skills, so there's no real surprise here to those who know about Aperger's.
  • Re:And.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @08:04PM (#37620696) Homepage

    Science only very rarely shows that some hypothesis is correct. More often, it shows that every other tested hypothesis is wrong, and that the one that's left is just the most likely.

    The "vaccines cause autism" hypothesis has been tested, and is shown to most likely be wrong. The "magic space fairy causes autism" hypothesis hasn't yet been tested, or the "too many hard sneezes while pregnant causes autism" hypothesis, nor a few hundred others. We have such a long way to go...

  • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @08:19PM (#37620874) Homepage Journal

    Asperger's is a mild form of autism. One of it's characteristics is that the people who have it focus very intently on what they're doing for extended periods of time. As a result, they make excellent programmers and testers because they'll put in hours without even realizing the time has gone by.

    In a sense, Asperger's is almost the reverse of ADD.

  • by Diamonddavej (851495) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @08:40PM (#37621076)

    Autism is not irrelevant. Cognitive style of autism can be positively used in employment, once a workplace understands autism's specific strengths. The most salient features are Weak Central Coherence and Need for Routine. If workplace adapts to the autistic cognitive style, everyone will benefit. There is too much focus on deficits rather then splinter skills and cognitive strengths.

    Weak Central Coherence - means autistic people are detail obsessed, they observe smallest parts and elements of the environment, and construct the overall picture from individual parts. This is ideal for identifying and spotting anomalies in software, identifying mistakes, dealing with information. For example, it's been known for years that autistic people are far superior in locating hidden features in the Embedded Figures Test.

    Need for Routine - repetitive and otherwise boring tasks are soothing, enjoyed and relaxing. Furthermore, attention is not lost nor mistakes made, when autistic person is engaged in repetitive tasks.

  • by Flere Imsaho (786612) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @10:23PM (#37621910)

    Maybe it's just me, but this reminds me of focus from Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky.

  • Re:And.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @10:26PM (#37621936)

    There's this impressive new field of mathematics called "statistics" - you may have heard about it already on Slashdot. Using statistics, yes, you can often make statements like "x does not cause y". By comparing people with and without x to see if they have the same or different rates of y. If the rates differ, x and y are related. If the rates are the same, then, no, x and y are not related.

    Conveniently, this was done back when people started blaming autism on vaccines. The rates were the same. The severity was the same. The ages were the same.

    Also conveniently, arguments like "different chemistry" are not an effective magical charm against statistics. Especially in the case of autism, where common genes have already been identified, and people with those genes still have the same autism rates whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @11:03PM (#37622204)
    A different type of brain would certainly be a condition of sorts.
  • Re:And.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gregfortune (313889) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @12:54AM (#37622750)

    The actual statement that you make is that "x is UNLIKELY to case y" along with a degree of confidence. artor3's comment is stated as an absolute so don't bother tossing stats into the discussion. Stats deals with estimation, likelyhood, probability, forecasting, etc. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_intervals [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_significance [wikipedia.org]

    artor3's comment is also stated without citation. Not a good start :(

  • by Sparx139 (1460489) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @01:01AM (#37622772)
    Online essays don't necessarily point either way -- my text messages often span over 3 messages (diagnosed nearly 5 years ago, had plenty of time to deal with the symptoms), and I've read about a high-functioning autistic guy who's one of the best speechwriters in America (Send in the Idiots, a short book if anyone is interested). Check out some of the posts over at wrongplanet [wrongplanet.net] some time if you don't believe me; sitting behind a screen makes it a lot easier to communicate, as one can think about what they want to say and take their time with it. Also, there's nothing like body language to compound the difficulty of communicating.

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