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I noticed that an increasing number of my engineer friends don't seem very excited about working in the tech industry anymore. I asked one why this was true, expecting him to give a politics-related answer.

Instead, he said "Tech isn't creating the Next Big Thing anymore."
That answer surprised me. What about AI? Self-driving cars? Robots?

He basically said that none of these things seemed to be working out that well. Self-driving cars had disappointed, AI gains seemed to peter out in most areas after an initial burst of progress...
And as for robots, he said AI has gotten very good at sensing and understanding the physical world but much less progress has been made in interfacing with the world.

This was a pessimistic take, but it does kind of explain the downbeat attitude I've sense among many engineers.
Of course that perspective is limited to the information/computer technology world. Stuff is undoubtedly going on in biotech, clean energy, etc. that your average Valley software engineer doesn't know about in detail.
But then again, other areas of tech really do have different kinds of markets, business structures, and regulatory considerations. Biotech is highly expensive lab work with (usually) enormous product development costs and regulatory barriers...
And clean energy tech (including storage, heating, manufacturing processes, etc.) is often government- or university-lab-driven or dominated by big foreign companies, etc.
Anyway, basically, there seems to be a growing feeling that information technology isn't poised to make human life better in a big way right now. That social networks and smartphones (and maybe cloud computing) were the tail end of a big IT boom that's now trailing off.
I don't really know how true this is, but if this sentiment generalizes, it means more engineers in the (generalized) IT industry are going to start feeling dissatisfied - with their companies, with their culture, with their careers.
Which in turn means that both IT-type startups and big IT companies like Google and Facebook may have a harder time attracting and retaining talent. When employees are enthusiastic and optimistic, they probably don't demand as much from their employers.
The feeling of "making the world a better place" - so often lampooned on the show Silicon Valley and elsewhere - is a compensating differential that probably makes people willing to work for less.

Again, this might be selection bias based on the people I talk to! But if it's true, it could mean that "tech" (i.e., IT) companies are going to find themselves more in the position of car companies, banks, or other old-line industries, talent-wise...

Time will tell!

Anyway, I don't mean this thread to be any sort of pronouncement. I'd love to hear from any of y'all who work in the general tech/IT/Silicon Valley sector, as to what you're excited about or whether you think your industry will produce more Big Things soon!
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