Skip to main content

Will there be another tech boom soon? writing from 2023

 Unless there is another XEROX PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) moment, we will not see any boom in tech for the next decade or so. I know this sounds pessimistic, but before you get your arrows out, know that I am a programmer who has never worked in big tech, so this issue affects me greatly also. 

While big tech companies, and many small tech companies following in a copycat manner, are posturing to investors by firing employees, which is a very bad sign for future growth, all this posturing will not result in a resurgence of tech because there is a problem at the roots, of which consequences we are observing now. 

So what is the deep problem at the roots causing the current destruction of value in the tech market, ignoring the temporary green we see from time to time that pops up in the stock? It is an excessive focus on value extraction and very little given to wild creative exploration. 

Sometimes too much structure can lead to restriction, tech companies mostly the big guys sometimes the small ones have focused too much on building structure, that is only exploring avenues of research whose short-term output would result in some kind of profit for the company. 

Even the so-called moonshot projects like drone delivery are designed to excite the public rather than add any real innovative value. Would creating a drone delivery system be cool, of course, it would be, is our world really ready for it? Not necessarily. 

Sometimes real innovation is not all that sexy or understandable to the general public. Sometimes it is some boring output of research like the work of Hinton, et. al in the 70s that lead to the deep learning explosion post-2010, or if we go backwards the Church-Turing thesis or the invention of the transistor. 

Sometimes though real innovation is as exciting as the invention of the World Wide Web, but we must remember that the WWW was built on some boring stuff about connecting supercomputers borne out of DARPA.

There has to be a balance between shareholder value and the future. If a company greedily focuses on shareholder value and doesn't invent the future, it will have no future and when the birth pangs start biting, the employee feels the first sting, but eventually, even the shareholders will lose that value for which they live. 

Big companies have to perform crazy out-of-this-world research that might mean nothing in the short term but might prove to be useful in 10 - 15 years. And it doesn't have to be super expensive research, employees just have to be allowed to tinker with stuff without consequence. 

If you hire good people then allowing them to tinker with stuff they might find interesting would increase your optionality in the future. If you structure research too much it will stifle the creative flows you get from your employees. 

Of course, companies should have a direction they're moving towards set by the CEO, but just like a tithe to the future, no less than 10% of a company's revenue should go to real future tinkering that has no obvious immediate benefit. 

The future is not always built by highly structured hardcore research, more explorative tinkering will create more optionality that ensures a company's future.


Popular posts from this blog

Next Steps Towards Strong Artificial Intelligence

What is Intelligence? Pathways to Synthetic Intelligence If you follow current AI Research then it will be apparent to you that AI research, the deep learning type has stalled! This does not mean that new areas of application for existing techniques are not appearing but that the fundamentals have been solved and things have become pretty standardized.

Virtual Reality is the next platform

VR Headset. Source: It's been a while now since we started trying to develop Virtual Reality systems but so far we have not witnessed the explosion of use that inspired the development of such systems. Although there are always going to be some diehard fans of Virtual Reality who will stick to improving the medium and trying out stuff with the hopes of building a killer app, for the rest of us Virtual Reality still seems like a medium that promises to arrive soon but never really hits the spot.

What is Intelligence: Software writing Software

Sometimes I wonder why programmers are hell-bent on writing programs that can communicate in natural language and not even putting adequate effort into writing programs that write other programs. Maybe is because of the natural tendency to protect one's source of livelihood by not attempting to automate it away or maybe because writing programs is hard enough such that contemplating of writing some program that writes programs might be even harder.