The A.I. Brain Drain

What will happen to the development of A.I. when all the researchers are working in the private sector?
By: Jack Sawyer


As the race to conquer artificial intelligence ramps up, technology companies are luring in A.I. researchers with massive paychecks in order to get a foot up on the competition. Google, Facebook, and Apple are just a few of the companies buying up these talented individuals and as a result, development of A.I. technology is becoming private information. This is leading to a brain drain in the academic field as institutions cannot compete with the incentives and computing power offered by the corporate world.

The monopolization of talent will have rippling effects. First, it will leave a hole in academia which negatively affects future generations as they are unable to learn from the best minds in the field. This in turn will restrict learning about the latest developments in A.I., as the information is kept classified behind a secure company server. Furthermore, if or when general purpose A.I. comes into fruition it will potentially be controlled by a corporation rather than made open-source for society. Of course this is dependent on how a company decides to utilize the technology, however there is almost always a financial incentive behind a company’s actions and this could adversely affect how the technology is adopted by society. For example, if a company sold A.I. services or an A.I. product for a premium, it would limit who could access the technology and as such, put many at a significant disadvantage. By hoarding talent, the technology companies can restrict the democratization of the technology.

What do you think technology companies buying up A.I. talent? Will it negatively affect the progress of A.I.? By bringing more people into the private sector, could it lead to faster breakthroughs? Will it hurt society?

Work Cited

Maxwell, Scott. “Why the AI Brain Drain Won’t Last.”, Inc.,
Sample, Ian. “’We Can’t Compete’: Why Universities Are Losing Their Best AI Scientists.” The Guardian
, Guardian News and Media, 1 Nov. 2017,

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