Many of the challenges of ADHD are rather trivial, yet profoundly affecting.
We seldom struggle with big ideas and major projects but rather with poor memory, weak time sense and disinterest in planning and organisation. With the advent of smartphones, technology is really starting to offer welcome help with these challenges. I use my phone diary synced with my browser so that I know where I need to be, so much easier than an old paper diary. I have my calendar widget on my home screen so I can’t avoid it. I use a note app to remember the random thoughts that pop into my head. Recurring birthday reminders help me avoid accusations of not caring. I no longer fail to plan travel as I no longer need to plan, thanks to Google maps and Google Now. I can find photos without needing to file them in folders.
There is still so much to coordinate, planning is still hard, I forget, I need something more, surely there’s a perfect ADHD App somewhere that can do this all on Google Play or the App Store?
The perfect ADHD App?
Many thousands of hours have been spent collectively in searching for the perfect ADD app. Here’s the usual route to our hoped for ADHD App salvation:
- Idea develops somewhere there “must be an app” that will tie fix my planning and organisation challenges
- Extensively look at to-do lists, calendars, reminder systems, notes apps
- Months later have determined the perfect app (or more likely the combination) of apps from Evernote, to Onenote, Keep, Remember the Milk, GTD, Wunderlist…
- Dates and data is entered, this is looking good – a lifetime of problems are solved, I’ll organise every day. It’s the perfect app.
- Days later, the app is forgotten. We failed to define/stick with the habit of updating, reviewing and checking with the App each day.
- Some months/years later start to look again…
The problem is not the app but it’s in starting and maintaining routines. In my coaching I help clients to create useful habits like these. But then I’m ADHD myself, so I know that we really don’t like too much routine. This is the problem with these apps, they are helpful in organising but only providing you use them! App developers seem to miss this fatal flaw, our problem isn’t in organising, it’s in spending our time to do so. If we are ADHD we don’t want an organisation solution that forces us into a repeated routine, to comply, to set aside time to plan.
We want a solution that will DO IT ALL, with no intervention whatsoever. The solution to our ADHD organisation challenges won’t come from Apps, it will come from Artificial Intelligence.
The Artificial Intelligence cure for ADHD
Developments in artificial intelligence are astonishing. Google’s Deep Mind AI system in Oct 2015, thrashed the European Go champion, five to nothing, then beat the World Go champion, four to one in March, 2016 to everyone’s surprise.
Artificial intelligence (Narrow AI) is giving us real-time language translation, predictive analysis, face recognition, internet search results, and even sports articles are all being produced by AI systems, learning from the vast oceans of images, words, information found on the internet.
Most of this AI help is delivered by a super-computer in the cloud talking to another super-computer in your hand, your phone. AI is beginning to make my ADHD life much easier. Since ADHD people are most challenged by administrivia, we stand to gain the most from electronic personal assistants that remember appointments and do the filing.
The AI advantage is that AI will be reactive, not passive. It will not be our job to update the calendar when we agree a meeting with a colleague, the AI will do it for you, book the room, update your diary, allocate time for any tasks needing completing beforehand, remind you that the meeting is near and then due. No need for us to maintain administrivia routines, yeah!!
My AI friend
I want an AI friend that does all my admin, seriously. I want it to complete my tax return. I want it to remind me of my brothers birthday, offer me some birthday present suggestions, then buy one and mail it to him. I want my AI to make all my appointments for me, knowing when I like to travel and when I don’t. I want an AI that drives my car so I can read or work – driving fast to keep interested doesn’t seem like a valid ADHD option any more.
I want a Personal AI that:
- Automatically registers my spoken commitments and puts them in my diary
- Reminds me of birthdays, offers present suggestions, arranges for timely dispatch
- Nudges me gently about commitments and suggests sensible schedules
- Arranges social events with friends/family
- Answers emails and pays bills, finds cheapest suppliers too
- Orders food each week that I like to cook
- Helps me stay focussed on deadlines, even if they pass at least I’ll know!
- Remembers trivial facts, who really needs to remember dates, lists and addresses
- Tells me someone’s name quietly, when I forget
- Remembers and arranges get togethers with friends and family
- Does my tax return – on time!
The future is certainly not looking completely perfect, but I am hopeful about artificial intelligence. I think it will significantly help those of us with ADHD overcome our trivial yet limiting challenges, so we may one day be free of drudgery and the mundane, free to pursue the exciting and engaging.