Autistic Jack Robison Escaped 60 Years in Prison; Now He’s Revolutionizing the Internet

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I’m excited to share the news that Autism Talk TV host and Wrong Planet contributor Jack Robison has joined the LBRY project as a core developer. Jack is a great guy and incredibly passionate about technology and science. Here is the announcement from LBRY:


Today, we officially announce the addition of Jack Robison to the LBRY team as Core Developer. Jack has been working on the project for some time, and we thought it was about time to recognize his growing role.

Jack Robison, LBRY Core Developer

We value Jack for his bursts of creative energy. In fact, Jack has quite a history with explosions. In high school, some of his homemade chemistry experiments caught the attention of law enforcement. The incident quickly became national news and goes to show that Jack doesn’t do anything half way, which makes him a perfect fit for the LBRY team.

“When I was in high school my interest was chemistry, starting with energetics. Rockets and cannons fascinated me, and I wanted to know how they really worked,” Jack explained. “I pursued the answer to that question, and after a couple years I’d synthesized many of the common explosives used in the military, and I was experimenting with some compositions of my own design. That interest got cut short by the law, fortunately the outcome didn’t involve any orange jumpsuits.”

The case involved big booms, YouTube videos, and overzealous prosecutors. He faced up to 60 years in prison. You can read more about it here.

That experience pretty much nixed Jack’s passion for explosives. As he put it, “I pretty thoroughly lost interest after they indicted me.” So he redirected his focus into other areas of chemistry, specifically designing compounds for medical use.

This might sound like a wild story, but it’s actually more common than you’d think. Peter Thiel revealed in his book that several of the co-founders of Paypal built explosives in high school. It’s not that tech companies look to hire firecrackers. It’s just that people who disrupt industries have to be willing to take risks in the name of creating something cool. Jack has just that mentality.

We’ve seen him hone various aspects of our nascent protocol with a laser-like focus. This is common for people on the autism spectrum, which Jack discovered of himself after his indictment. In fact, his atypical mind may have blinded him to the possibility that his explosions were anything more than the ambitious chemistry experiments he saw.

Jack’s acquittal made him something of a celebrity in the “Aspie” community and he continues to advocate for autism rights. He has spoken on the subject around the country, even appearing on National Public Radio. The New York Times published a feature-length story about his activism and life, which is well worth a read.

Jack later developed interests in economics and Bitcoin. That led him to us. As he puts it:

“LBRY quickly caught my interest; I don’t know how a distributed content marketplace and delivery platform couldn’t. It has the right incentives to get people to act as they should, and by doing so, makes content available at the most efficient price. The market for information is muddled with friction throughout; LBRY gets rid of that. It’s a good time to be a nerd for markets! The blockchain has the potential to enable direct person-to-person transactions on an unprecedented scale.”

Having successfully pushed the boundaries in the autism community, he’s now ready to focus his talents on pushing the boundaries of technology and the Internet.

LBRY co-founder Jeremy Kauffman is thrilled to be working with Robison:

“Jack is one of the sharpest and most creative minds I’ve ever met. It’s surreal to think that mind could have gone to waste if things had gone a little differently. We’re all very glad we’re in the universe where Jack did not go jail, and I’m personally excited to have such an innovative mind working on LBRY.”

Jack jumped into LBRY with both feet and we quickly discovered he is an amazingly fast learner. His sharp mind and astute problem solving skills are quickly turning Jack into a leader on the LBRY team.

Here’s the original announcement

10 thoughts on “Autistic Jack Robison Escaped 60 Years in Prison; Now He’s Revolutionizing the Internet”


    • Adamantium on January 5, 2016

      Excellent news! That must be a pretty cool technology if he has gotten so into it.

      I wonder how this will be different than the many other sharing technologies that have been crushed or sidelined by IP control conglomerates? I hope it works out. I will certainly be following LBRY, now.

    • CockneyRebel on January 17, 2016

      This calls for a celebration! :afro:

    • AR15000 on January 21, 2016

      An autistic hipster? LOL it had to happen

    • AlanR76 on February 24, 2016

      Hello I am Alan , New to this forum. I was certainly attracted to this article. As a child I was copper and silver plating different metals, obsessed with chemistry and similar "boom-boom" experiments with various combinations of powders, petroleum distillates, etc. Nowadays with what happens in the world and because of the Patriot act, we are all at risk. Even with innocent attempts to do things that were once free to do, safety is a must. Too many have ruined our freedoms either by accident or on purpose. In some cases people have been hurt, even when that was not the intention. Look at how even consumer fireworks have burned homes and forests, and also injured or killed others. I’m glad nobody is in trouble here or got hurt. Jack, at least you got to explore the fun for a bit. See about getting involved with a pyrotechnician, obtaining a license to do this sort of thing legally, perhaps on a smaller scale! Perhaps you could develop different ways to help those companies produce a new type of firework. If you are allowed to of course. Or see about contacting the "Mythbusters", perhaps Jamie will allow you to do some experiments supervised by professionals, of course!

    • EzraS on February 24, 2016

      Can he spare some time to fix the awful Captcha glitches on WP?

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