The world doesn’t need another app. It needs more heat pump installers, more civil engineers, more biotech innovation, more advanced materials, more nuclear and solar power, better supply lines, and just generally more in the physical realm, layer 0.
Smart people that are good at rotating shapes take the easy route because the incentives make it that way. It’s much easier to scale a digital company than a physical one, because you can copy and paste code, but can’t do the same with a factory. And shape-rotating employees find it more profitable to join such ventures rather than do something else with their time. The absurd steroid growth requirements of Silicon Valley are the cause of this profitability for engineers, and the resulting bubble for the rest of society. Also, the Baumol effect, which is part of why we live in an uglier world that costs more.
But hey - the world doesn’t need another app, or another image sharing site. Whatever it is, it probably isn’t as important as:
- improving global supply lines
- making agriculture more resilient to climate change
- making or installing heat pumps to ensure a more efficient energy future
- creating new advanced materials
- improving medicine, or even stopping aging
Even literally just being a plumber is more honest than optimizing a predatory algorithm that sucks people’s attention and depletes them of their life force.
Of course, every real innovation will probably include some level of software, but software helping to achieve some important physical goal isn’t the subject of this rant.
The current tech bubble is not only producing unnecessary software, or killing off good software companies because they’re about sustainability over exponential growth, but it’s making humanity pay a high opportunity cost: the people who would otherwise work on more important things now work on less important things. The talent goes where there’s most money.
We could have advanced robotized greenhouses automated to control their microclimate, but instead we have things like this:
We could have a futuristic environment, floating cities, augmented bodies, spaceships, or we could just have non-futuristic things that work well and don’t cost a fortune. Another app doesn’t solve this.
I agree that it’s time to build - but a lot of that building must come from the software that has already eaten enough of the world. And for that, the desire to build doesn’t come by itself. It comes by having the right incentives so that people who can build, don’t go and build something stupid instead.