Joon Jang/research/chi-24-autism-llm-the-only-thing
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It's the only thing I can trust - Envisioning Large Language Model Use by Autistic Workers for Communication Assistance

CHI 24: Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
A graphic displaying a participant asking the question: "How do I go about resolving conflicts with coworkers?", and two replies, one from a robot and one from a human are juxtaposed.
J.W. Jang, S. Moharana, P. Carrington, A. Begel


Autistic adults often experience stigma and discrimination at work, leading them to seek social communication support from coworkers, friends, and family despite emotional risks. Large language models (LLMs) are increasingly considered an alternative. In this work, we investigate the phenomenon of LLM use by autistic adults at work and explore opportunities and risks of LLMs as a source of social communication advice. We asked 11 autistic participants to present questions about their own workplace-related social difficulties to (1) a GPT-4-based chatbot and (2) a disguised human confederate. Our evaluation shows that participants strongly preferred LLM over confederate interactions. However, a coach specializing in supporting autistic job-seekers raised concerns that the LLM was dispensing questionable advice. We highlight how this divergence in participant and practitioner attitudes reflects existing schisms in HCI on the relative privileging of end-user wants versus normative good and propose design considerations for LLMs to center autistic experiences.