Don’t blindly jump into what’s hot posted on 30 April 2024

Every few months/years, there’s a hot field that a lot of people want to jump into – I get so many requests nowadays from people looking for AI engineers jobs. Today the hot space is AI and before we had blockchains, machine learning etc.

While I do think AI is going to dramatically change many industries, not every trendy topic is something you should jump into. E.g. while I thought blockchain was an interesting technology, I always thought it was very naive to think it would overrule existing property/financial/etc. laws, so I never thought it would become a huge thing where we would need tons of engineers working on – I think the hype around web3/blockchain is mostly gone now, so I was reasonably right. You should look beyond the hype and properly evaluate technologies to figure out their actual impact (you should keep in mind that some industries don’t move as fast as technologies).

Even for technologies that are going to change the world (and our industry), I think it’s important to keep in mind that the core engineering work is likely still going to be present. Even with AI models to replace features, you still need an infrastructure to serve your business traffic, train your models and serve your predictions. This is standard (and boring?) engineering work. The hard truth is that many people working on AI today are just doing ETL/data pipelines work – this seems to be very similar to the machine learning trend from a few years ago.

Yes some of the folks are doing state of the art AI research (and very interesting stuff), but I don’t think it is the majority of the engineers. My only advice is to try to form an educated opinion of a field before deciding to jump in.

There are also tons of interesting fields that don’t seem glamorous at once – I personally work on privacy infrastructure by choice (TL;DR is that I think privacy will become more important for companies and more complex without enough people – but if you’re interested, I could write more about it). Keep an open mind when looking for your next interesting adventure!

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