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Can High-Tech Academia Survive Silicon Valley’s Talent Binge?

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, Carnegie Mellon had one of the most capable robotics research centers in the world. Then, Uber hired away dozens of workers in a frantic push to jump start development of autonomous driving technology, which left CMU reeling. Now the NY Times asks whether such high-tech labs can continue to exist; Silicon Valley seems ready to flood such organizations with money whenever a vital new technology is almost ripe. “Carnegie Mellon’s experience is a familiar one in the world of high-tech research. As a field matures, universities can wake up one day to find money flooding the premises; suddenly they’re in a talent war with deep-pocketed firms from Silicon Valley. The impacts are also intellectual. When researchers leave for industry, their expertise winks off the map; they usually can’t publish what they discover — or even talk about it over drinks with former colleagues. … [Also], the intellectual register of their work changes. No more exploring hard, ”basic” problems out of deep curiosity; they need to solve problems that will make their employers money.”

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