Is it possible to train my autistic ability to focus intensely on one thing?

Yes, to some degree focus can be channeled.

I would love to play Freecell online every waking hour. And there have been times when I did this for several months. I don't really care about winning or losing, just moving the cards as quickly as possible. I realize this is not really how I want to spend a lifetime so I start to do things to break that routine. Blocking the web site in my browsers, getting a router to block the site, not using a computer, etc...

With that time starting to free I have time to think about other things. When I play Freecell I don't really think about other things. Hopefully one of those other things will become a focus. I generally always have one focus. So figuring out a way to stop a current focus leads to some other focus.

When I start thinking about other things I can have some control over what I think about. Before I retired I would try to limit brainstorming to things that could earn money. I can get focused on raising pigeons if I don't allow myself to think about pigeons. Pigeons are something I've wanted to have for 50 years. I passed a house where the person had pigeons and it reminded me and I thought "I should get pigeons" and I could feel that instant intense interest. So I shifted to the negatives of having pigeons. The responsibility, having to be home everyday (no trips), the smell of the coup, etc... And then telling myself something that might be more interesting like creating an [app to footnote videos](Wikipedia:Videos - Wikipedia). Something that will hold my interest for even 10 minutes and pigeons fade away before becoming a focus. If I focus on pigeons for even an hour or two I'm likely to get trapped there.

About 17 years ago I created a focus like you mentioned, one that would last for years. It was to create software that worked like a human brain. A common goal, but not a lot of success imo. Neurons aren't really very complicated. The complexity is in the connections and we don't really know how it all works.

I thought it would be a life long task I would never finish. Like playing Freecell.

Turned out there's really no point in creating software that works like a human brain. We already have 7+ billion of those and most are not really very impressive. I could create a software brain and it might just want to play Freecell all the time.

AI is much more interesting. I worked on bots for a couple of years. I've stopped all that.

But I think you are completely right about machine learning. It already has changed the world and is continuing to change it. But there's a lot more to come. And there's good money in it too.

And an Aspie mind is the perfect tool to see where this all could go.

/r/aspergers Thread