(These are excerpts from my book "Intelligence is not Artificial")
Post-scriptum on Jobs - A.I. Brain Drain
As A.I. became more and more popular and corporations started hiring just about anybody whose PhD dissertation was remotely related to A.I., the other fear that began to mount was that this "brain drain" of university scientists would result in a slow-down in pure research.
Google hired Sebastian Thrun, Geoff Hinton and most of his team, Ian Goodfellow, Oriol Vinyals, Christian Szegedy, Andrew Ng and Feifei Li, and acquired DeepMind which in turn hired a lot of talents like Daan Wierstra.
Salesforce hired Richard Socher.
Facebook hired Yann LeCun, Ross Girshick, Kaiming He, and Ronan Collobert.
OpenAI hired Ilya Sutskever.
Megvii hired Jian Sun, Tencent hired Dong Yu.
In 2016, just when Donald Trump was getting elected thanks to the blue-collar voters of the Midwest who were losing their manufacturing jobs, salaries for A.I. specialists were skyrocketing in Silicon Valley, attracting more and more graduates who would have normally stayed in academia most of their lives.
The website Venture Scanner counted 2,000 A.I. startups at the end of 2017, many of them founded by promising talents in A.I.
Many viewed the scale of the exodus from the universities as unprecedented.
Silicon Valley, however, should have known better.
Silicon Valley got that nickname because William Shockley, one of the three inventors of the transistor, moved to Palo Alto and started hiring the best graduates that he could get. Out of his lab came Fairchild and out of Fairchild came dozens of "silicon" startups. That's how the legend of Silicon Valley got started. Given the spectacular success that those firms had in revolutionizing the electronic field, it is difficult to argue that Shockley and his descendants caused harm to research by "stealing" the best brains from universities. It is difficult to imagine that those same brains, left in their universities, would have achieved the same kind of technological revolution.
One can in fact conclude the opposite: without the transfusion of brains into the Silicon Valleys of the world, today we would know less (not more) about electronic engineering, and we probably wouldn't have the smartphone and all those other convenient gadgets.
"Silicon Valley is not so much a place as a state of mind" (an often repeated adage in Silicon Valley).
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