Activity tagged "neurodiversity"

Sam Bankman-Fried has filed five more letters of support, and from reading them it seems that somehow Mukasey Young is worried they hadn't emphasized enough that Bankman-Fried is vegan

Doing good for the world: Sam was consistently vegan in the time I lived with him, because he wanted to reduce farm animals' suffering. He was happy to discuss this (but not pushy, unlike stereotypical vegans), and by 2014 had converted about half of ET to vegetarianism or veganism. I did not become vegetarian or vegan, but I respected his efforts. Sam also took action on causes other than reducing animal suffering: he ran an event in which he gave MIT students $1 to donate to one of three charities (the Against Malaria Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and a third I don't remember) with descriptions of what they could accomplish with how much money, hoping to get MIT students to think about effectively doing good for the world.
Sam felt deeply for every living being, farm animals included -- so much so that he adhered to a vegan diet and convinced several others in our living group to become vegan, too. He took every actionable step he could to reduce suffering. Sam has been portrayed as being motivated by greed. This is completely inconsistent with the Sam I knew. He never showed any interest in material possessions or personal wealth; he was far more interested in promoting animal welfare. I believe that if Sam is given a lenient sentence, he will be an asset to society. If the fact that I still limit my meat consumption on ethical grounds is any indication, Sam will continue inspiring others to be a little bit kinder and gentler.

Another two are from parents of autistic children, and one of them suggests that perhaps "he did not fully understand the scope of what was going on and did not have malicious intent".

Dear Judge Kaplan, As the sentencing of Sam Bankman-Fried approaches I am writing to you as a mother of a 34-year-old son who is on the Autism spectrum (known for purposes of this letter as Aspergers) as is Sam, which I understand you are aware of. I have no opinion as to his guilt or innocence under the law, but do want to share with you my experiences with my son that hopefully might give you some pause to reflect on Sam’s behavior and mental state leading up to and during the trial. I was not familiar with Sam and his story until I watched a 60 Minutes interview with Michael Lewis, the author of his biography, in Oct, 2023. As he described Sam I saw my son and kept wondering why Aspergers never came up in the segment, because those of us knowledgeable about it, could see his behavior, his mannerisms ... and his brilliance... as huge indicators of him being on the spectrum. I did not follow the trial closely but did look for some kind of public acknowledgement of his condition. However, with his conviction and the way he was being described at trial, I felt compelled to reach out to his lawyer to ask if Sam had been diagnosed. I never heard back but one of my other sons found Joe Bankman’s email and I sent a note to him in November asking him the same question because I felt so strongly that there but for the grace of God goes my son. I told him that his son sounds very much like my own – his mannerisms, thinks in numbers (my son is discovering Pi patterns at the moment), brilliant, very good at making money (has his own business), same dress style, or lack thereof, obsessive, socially awkward... I could go on. In fact, it freaked me out. I bring this forward because my son has had a couple of brushes with the law - all very stupid and innocent in that either his actions were misinterpreted or he was clueless and didn't understand what was going on. This is not unusual for those with Aspergers. Fortunately, all were rectified but all left a traumatic mark on him, too. Mr. Bankman did respond recently to my email and let me know that Sam had been diagnosed as on the Autism spectrum and that you and the Prosecutor were made aware as well. I have no idea how familiar you are with Aspergers, particularly those
who are out working and supporting themselves, but I can speak from experience that the mind of those on the spectrum works differently. Though I have never met Sam, I firmly believe that while he may be an MIT grad - he did not fully understand the scope of what was going on and did not have malicious intent. Truthful to a fault, these wonderful people are the outliers of our world (not a disability) who make all the great discoveries (Einstein) but most have difficulty with executive functioning, especially when it gets chaotic. They tend to shut down then and I can only imagine how chaotic Sam’s world was both when running a business with what sounds like little controls in place, and during the trial. I know his altruistic pursuits could only have been heartfelt because my son believes he has found the cure for cancer through his work with numbers and wants to save the world. I am just thankful that his brushes with the law did not involve him having to take the stand because that would have been a disaster. He would have talked and talked and driven everyone crazy while thinking he is explaining it all so well. My husband and I did not know our son was on the spectrum untill he was around 31, about three years ago, and had a traumatic event that caused him what is called "Autism burnout." We always knew he was smart, quirky, odd, became obsessive about an area of interest, and socially awkward but did not realize he was on the spectrum until then. Thank you for your consideration of what I have said as you ponder this young man’s future. There is every reason to believe he could contribute so much more to society if given the chance... and understanding. Sincerely