It was common to hear analysts say things like, “I just love to solve problems.” But what they were really doing was solving something closer to puzzles. It’s clear to me, for example, that the janitor at my middle school solved problems when she cleaned up trash. It’s far less clear whether analysts at Capital One are solving problems or creating them.
This is a decent description of a lot of engineers. I see so many smart people here disappear into defense contractor work or predatory-ish startups because there are interesting puzzles to solve.
Meanwhile, unionizing grad students here would solve a lot of problems, but it isn't a puzzle, employers won't care if you put effort into it, and that work doesn't help you get closer to graduation, so nobody wants to do it. Far easier to just put your head down and solve puzzles until you've done enough to write up and leave.
Under the data-driven directives of Capitalism 2.0, you can have a bunch of friendly data scientists who don’t think too deeply about the models they’re building, while tutoring low-income kids on the side. As far as they’re concerned, they’re refining a bunch of computer algorithms.