The Usual Problem

An Autistic Chap who would like to go viral.

American debt, missiles from Gaza, centrifuges in Iran and North Korea, drought, flood, insolvent Greeks – what might be our most difficult problem of 2013?

Naill Ferguson offered this late in 2011 and it still rings true:

So the question is not, how do we produce more Steve [Jobs]s? The normal process of human reproduction will ensure a steady supply of what Malcolm Gladwell has called “outliers.” The question should be, how do we ensure that the next Steve Jobs fulfills his potential?

An adopted child, the biological son of a Syrian Muslim immigrant, a college dropout, a hippie who briefly converted to Buddhism and experimented with LSD—Jobs was the type of guy no sane human resources department would have hired. I doubt that Apple itself would hire someone with his résumé at age 20. The only chance he ever had to become a chief executive officer was by founding his own company.

And that—China, please note—is why capitalism needs to be embedded in a truly free society in order to flourish. In a free society a weirdo can do his own thing. In a free society he can even fail at his own thing, as Jobs undoubtedly did in his first stint in charge of Apple. And in a free society he can bounce back and revolutionize all our lives.

Somewhere in his father’s native Syria another Steve Jobs has just died. But this other Steve was gunned down by a tyrannical government. And what wonders his genius might have produced we shall never know.

2013′s answers won’t come from the elite addressing the crisis du jour; the God-given diversity of genius available in the world holds the solutions. Thanks to Gary Becker, we call that human capital in economics.

Consider this business with the autistic:

We don’t need diversity for the sake of it, we are given diversity to make use of it. When the range of people contributing to creating both material wealth and social richness expands, we all benefit. When freedom and liberty decrease, the requirement for conformity increases and we lose the opportunity to innovate and benefit from the unique perspective of the unusual born among us.

Here’s a last word on differences in human capital from Tyler Cowen:

If you are in some way genetically “extreme,” and suddenly better at finding/pairing with similar extremists, the numbers of that type in a population can rise relatively rapidly. … One way to interpret this is to believe that the internet will, over time, increase human genetic diversity.

I’ve long believed we need more strange nonconformists. Pair up and make more of you. You’re our only hope!



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