Being on the Autistic Spectrum can be tough. Often, social interactions can adversely impact adult life options. Besides personal issues, there is the threat of adverse impact from routine professional or workplace interactions, which helps explain why the unemployment rate for individuals on the Spectrum approaches 90%. When accounting for under-employment, the affected population is even greater. If the individual qualifies for public assistance, he or she often contend with a meager, under-stimulating lifestyle. This state sharply contrasts with all the ASD resources typically available during childhood. Almost simultaneous with when an autistic person reaches the age of maturity, adult resources become sparse. Often, the ASD individual receives resources to operate in a neurotypical environment. Too many employers perceive it as suboptimal to dedicate cognitive resources when such low expectations exist. This proposal, instead. advocates developing resources to enable the diagnosed individual to bypass challenges present in the neurotypical environment, to begin by optimizing the environment to address each individual’s uniqueness and social needs and professional development
Chronic unemployment and under-employment represent a relatively untapped resource, a cognitive surplus. Clay Shirky, in his 2010 book Cognitive Surplus. enlightened the public about how consumers can come together on broad topics and collaborate using both mature and emerging media technologies, a discovery I call Cognitive Surplus 1.0. What I propose is an extension, Cognitive Surplus 2.0. Cognitive Surplus 2.0 envisions a framework for individuals unable to participate in traditional wealth creation, such as individuals with ASD, and in the future, perhaps other mental diagnoses. Though initially, this project’s mission will address a small portion of the global population with mental diagnoses, it can still represent a population with extraordinary neurodiversity, exceeding that of the population frequently engaged in solving problems. The designs and solutions from such a neurocollective promise to be astounding.
Cognitive Surplus 2.0 is umbrellaed under an organization called the NeuroCollective. The NeuroCollective is a very different type of business organization. After seeding, it self-derives its own operating funds from selling, licensing or developing Intellectual Property (IP) for clients and customers and self-disseminating the value back into members of the collective; it is a caretaker organization. Its prime difference from existing models arises from how the individual participates in wealth creation; it’s temporally independent collective IP. This means the members can contribute IP on anytime frame. The optimizations for the ASD individuals are to diminish the cerebral competition for the individuals cognitive bandwidth and have as much as possible for problem solving. Problems can be past, present, future, anticipated. Decoupling from mundane demands allows for a wider range of thinking than many "out of the box" conceptions, or what I call "finding the void in plain sight.” Visionaries like Jobs, Musk and Page not only found voids, but filled them with economic ecosystems. The NeuroCollective actively seeks out these opportunities. Because the NeuroCollective is asynchronous with respect to its member contributions, it is intrinsically a transgenerational organization. All members work to support each other, across all time frames.
When liberated from servicing the mundane demands of fitting in to conventional environments, the intrinsic neurodivergence of the ASD community can express an unprecedented range of solutions. Self-sustaining an organization using IP is contemporary yet not untested; IBM, for example, has used this approach for decades, and has shown it can lead to long-term income streams, which then partially roll back into maintaining and expanding the NeuroCollective.
The organization of the NeuroCollective will have to accommodate operating with so many unique cognitive perspectives, capacities, and schedules that it would be hard to fit within contemporary business organizations. As a caretaker organization, perhaps a benefit cooperative could be a starting point. Since individuals with ASD have other comorbid mental diagnoses, this could evolve to cover a very broad range of mental diagnoses and gradually expand to include other groups possessing a similar cognitive surplus. This proposal presents the ultimate expression of converting weakness into strength, liability into asset, perceived shortcoming into opportunity, the hinderance becomes power.