What stops innovation in Silicon Valley?

Original author: Francisko Dao
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Since one of the founders of PayPal, well-known investor Peter Thiel has been indignant that “instead of the promised flying machines, we got 140 characters,” and until the recent complaints of TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington about today's innovations, which drive him into melancholy, the number of those disappointed in the innovative potential Silicon Valley has grown dramatically. While the main hardware, microprocessors, infrastructure and image display technologies continue to explore new horizons, innovations in the field of Internet products and services can rightly be called secondary and not causing enthusiasm. Translation made by Alconost .

Many reasons for such a miserable state of innovation in the Internet space have already been discussed (overly friendly technologies, the spread of incubators, echo cameras, etc.), but there is one idea that, as far as I know, no one has expressed. Here it is: in order to be able to break through to new frontiers, people must work at the forefront of innovation, or at least be fully aware of all the new products. And here is an example: what do you think - would SpaceX engineers be able to develop a new rocket technology if they had not previously worked at the forefront in their field? I doubt that there will be many or at least one engineer in SpaceX's engineering department without serious aerospace experience.

Let me give you a larger analogy from the field of medicine. Almost all scientific achievements in medicine, genetics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology belong to researchers who usually have a doctorate and work with the support of universities or well-funded pharmaceutical companies. These are serious scientists who have studied their field for years. Agree, it would be absurd to expect the invention of a new cure for cancer from people with limited medical or biological education. However, this is exactly what is happening on the Internet: people who do not work with advanced Internet technologies are trying to be innovative. Unlike medical research or microprocessor engineering, today's fast-paced seekers, rather than discoverers of new horizons, are running the Internet.

Continuing the analogy with the medical field: a biology student who has not completed his education has little chance of developing a new cure for cancer, but he may well be able to open a network of inexpensive clinics or even come up with a better medical billing system. This is what we observe in the Internet environment: people are not so much making technological breakthroughs as creating models to increase comfort.

There is nothing wrong with entrepreneurs who do not want to miss business opportunities, but it confuses how the whole sector has convinced itself that it is at the forefront of innovation and knows all the answers. Using the previous medical analogy: today's online environment makes it clear to people that they can earn more as open-ended biologist clinics, rather than serious researchers looking for a cure for cancer. The Internet space lacks real technological innovations, because it is overpopulated by the owners of the clinics, convinced that they, and not the doctors of science who are researching the advanced achievements of genetics, represent the vanguard of medicine.

I understand that my accusation is very severe, as well as the fact that serious engineers with excellent education work in the Internet space as well. And I apologize if you are developing serious technology. My criticism is directed at the environment in general and the spirit of the times in this sector of Silicon Valley. If incubators are stamping mail-order companies for men’s underwear and presenting them as pioneers in technology, something obviously went wrong.

In response to Arrington’s complaint about the lack of innovation, many point to important technical developments like SpaceX or advanced Google projects like Google Glass. But in these and other examples designed to refute the charge, the developers are serious engineers and scientists with advanced knowledge.

Most Internet entrepreneurs have nothing to do with technological advancement. On the contrary: they resemble those under-educated students who attended a medical billing course and opened a network of clinics. They probably have a good business model and they probably provide good services, but they will not be able to push technological boundaries, because they have not even come close to working with advanced knowledge. And until this environment changes, Thiel, Arrington and everyone else will expect impressive innovations in other sectors of Silicon Valley, but not here.

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