In hindsight, it seems like it had to happen one day. The shining, glorious and high-flying technological sector has descended on Earth.
Not that it was that bad – we’re talking more of an emergency landing than oxygen masks and backup positions. But ambitions have been checked as rising interest rates have ended years of easy money, a point highlighted in recent earnings calls and unprecedented mass layoffs of companies that were doing anything but. send gold-plated helicopters to snatch computer science graduates. graduates from the best universities in the country.
Personally, I find it hard to feel bad. It sucks to lose a job, but if anyone has to, it might as well be someone who made over $200,000 for a few years, not to mention the obscene benefits. (Notably, a friend of mine on Twitter told me he was actually bummed to have been ignored by Elon-o-tron’s layoffs, and the consolation of a nice severance package, a sentiment shared by 80% of Twitter’s pre-layoff workforce, according to a survey on polling app Blind.)
And beyond the simple schadenfreude at the thought of a withered Zucker-borg, I also find myself with a strange sense of lifting, a counterintuitive optimism, about all the technological deflation. As far as I know, many of these companies haven’t done anything so magnificently good for the world in a long time. Sure, people love social media a lot, but they also have the unfortunate tendency to break our brains and our democratic institutions (not to mention the whole genocide in Myanmar). Next-day delivery is great, as long as you don’t think about the class of low-paid, algorithmically driven workers who have to give up bathroom breaks to make this possible.
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And none of that should change. The success of these companies was centered on decades-old innovations – personal computing, internet connections, ubiquitous smartphones – that generated unprecedented money-making opportunities (showing people ads on their phones is good business! And it also turns out that most of us like getting delivered more than shopping). But when these companies tried to use their stacks of cash and engineering talents to tackle tougher problems, like self-driving vehicles, they were blinded by their own optimism and found themselves incredibly short. . And many of their other plans seemed to simply involve extending the core logic of their original product to a gruesome, dystopian degree. (Do you like scrolling on Facebook? Then you will love live inside.)
The point I’m coming to is that I don’t think it’s a great tragedy for these companies to finally lose some of their massive share of the company’s investment capital and technical talent. And it couldn’t come at a better time for the rest of us, either. In the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress passed a real boost to the clean energy economy. Suddenly it’s an amazing time to be in batteries or solar panels, which is also good for anyone who cares about phasing out fossil fuels and preventing a climate catastrophe . Scaling up this innovation will not solve the climate crisis on its own, but it will certainly help.
Transferring capital to these sectors is simple. And many of those laid-off workers may also move on – cleantech companies need coders and product managers, after all. Not to mention that many of you techs are very smart and surely able to fill in the gaps in your skills. So here’s my plea for you, oh rejected meta engineer:
The world really, really needs to fix this climate change problem, or else very bad stuff it will happen. You may be able to help. In fact, with your experience, abilities, and education, you are almost certainly able to do more than most. There will also be a lot of money for people who will help to understand. In fact, a lot of people would kill to be where you are right now.
No pressure though. I know that there will also be a big gain for whoever invents MySpace 2 or whatever. I’m sure that would be cool. But maybe helping avert climate catastrophe could also be fun. “Renewable energy” sounds good, doesn’t it? Already lifting a bit of that dismissal gloom, right? Just my two cents here. Maybe just thinking about it. Take your time. But not too long. We don’t have exactly a ton.
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