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Friday, July 21, 2023

Autistic Language Patterns and a Problem with AI Detection

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

Richard Pollina The New York Post:
An assistant professor at Purdue University, who has been diagnosed with autism, said that they were accused by a fellow researcher of being an AI bot after sending an email that allegedly lacked “warmth.”

Rua Mea Williams, 37, warned that people with disabilities might be confused with artificial intelligence because fellow professors are not accounting for those who have neurological issues or are not native English speakers.

“Kids used to make fun of me for speaking robotically. That’s a really common complaint with Autistic children,” Williams told The Post on Thursday about the misconception.

“Chat GPT detectors are flagging non-native English speakers as using Chat GPT when really it’s just that they have an idiosyncratic way of pulling together words that’s based on translating their native language into English.”

Williams, who uses they/them pronouns, holds a Ph.D. in human-centered computing.y chose to share the interaction on Twitter to illustrate how the mistake could happen to anyone with disabilities.

“The AI design of your email is clever, but significantly lacks warmth,” the researcher replied to Williams’ email, followed by a request to speak with a “human being.”

“It’s not an AI. I’m just Autistic,” the professor replied, telling The Post it was “probably” not the first time they’ve been accused of “roboticness,” but is the first time they received the “bot implication.”