Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bubbles and talent diversion

I was reading a book called _Analyze This_ recently that was detailing many examples of how computer algorithms are increasingly used in the world.  It describes a lot of exciting things (like algorithms that write songs), and a lot of not so exciting things (like algorithms that create financial catastrophes).  The talent tends to go where the money is, and the book describes how the financial bubble siphoned off so much of the best talent - usually math, science, engineering students with advanced degrees - to Wall Street.  When Wall Street crashed that talent moved to Silicon Valley where much is being directed at Social Media and web interactions currently.

The chain of events led to this quote by Jeff Hammerbacher that summed up well his experience on both Wall Street and at Facebook as this:  "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads...  That sucks."

He's now founded a startup called Cloudera dedicated to organizing large sets of unstructured data that would have a wide range of applications.

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