I am a Norwegian in Silicon Valley that have spent most of my career with Chinese colleagues, both in academia and industry, and my anecdata seem to indicate that my highly talented China-born colleagues are sadly leaving because;
- China has great opportunities for riches
- Getting a US VISA is hard and painful when you come from a populous country like China or India
- My China-born colleagues seem to in general be more conservative, and Silicon Valley has become violently intolerant of anyone that holds an opinion different than the predominant view
Only the first reason is somewhat objective, while the two others cause stress in their daily life as their ability to provide can at any time be removed due to what is perceived as arbitrary reasons. Everything being equal, many of them have told me they would prefer the less crowded Silicon Valley.
It is understandable why somebody would want to return to their home-country. The "Bamboo Ceiling" the article discusses is incredibly concerning. It's America's loss for sure.
I'm curious (1) how much of these people's education or experience was subsidized by the American economy and (2) how common the same situation is in China (i.e. US expats training up in China and taking that expertise back to the US).
If (1) and (2) aren't aligned, it could be one of the factors contributing to the growing sense that we pour a bunch of money into higher-ed without seeing much return.
I don't mean this from a US nationalist or political perspective - I'm merely speculating on the economics. Are the incentives for coming to the country aligned for both the person and the country? Many companies will pay for employees to go to grad-school but demand repayment if the employee isn't still with the company N years later. Would such a system for college/work visas make any sense to help keep talent?
I think it's interesting that many of those same criticisms can be leveled at China. If you're not Han Chinese you'll never get far in any Chinese company. You will get far helping someone else get rich. Getting permanent residency is similarly stressful. In many ways, China is even less open than Western societies and far less accepting of doing things a different way. Might be great for returning Chinese but I'm not entirely sure they will be able to attract a global talent pool like SV has done. Add in censorship and you've got a pretty toxic environment brewing.
My guess is they'll run into similar (or worse) issues with their own SV.
I don't think that means any of what SV is doing is okay, just interesting that other nationalities there will face the exact same issues that they faced here.
There's one important datapoint in this article: "The Bamboo Ceiling".
When the whole fuzz about gender discrimination started, Microsoft and Google published numbers, claiming women got the same pay at the same positions as men. Knowing there's discrimination from personal experience/feeling, I theorized, that women are discriminated in a different way: they don't receive promotions.
Under otherwise similar circumstances having children does not feel to be enough to explain why of 100 women hired in tech on professional roles less are promoted to higher positions, than of 100 men. That trend is (at least anecdotally for me) observable even before people become parents.
This "Bamboo Ceiling" shows the same effect for another potentially discriminated group of people.
Can't say for everyone else, but from my observation, ppl from big china cities are more likely to go back while ppl from small cities are more willing to stay. The reasons is that moving to big china cities is as hard if not harder than staying in SV.
For myself, I'd like to stay here even I came from a big city like shanghai as I enjoy the freedom in US and agree with american values.
Besides, china is getting worse in every aspect I care about such as speech freedom, news freedom, human rights, food and air safety, etc, under Xi's administration.
Unfortunately the waiting time for a green card is too long, I don't want to sacrifice some of the most valuable years in my life just waiting here while I can achieve more if I'm able to work on my own project.
So I am moving back as well in the near future and hope someday I can make an achievement and get back to US.
Last paragraph is terrifying, does China not have privacy laws at all?
More interesting than prospects for some may be the sheer volume of intimate data available and leeway to experiment in China. Tencent’s now-ubiquitous WeChat, built by a small team in months, has become a poster-child for in-house creative license. Modern computing is driven by crunching enormous amounts of data, and generations of state surveillance has conditioned the public to be less concerned about sharing information than Westerners. Local startup SenseTime for instance has teamed with dozens of police departments to track everything from visages to races, helping the country develop one of the world’s most sophisticated and extensive surveillance machines.
I don't think this is just Chinese workers, although it's a more noticeable phenomenon just because of the numbers involved.
Many of my European colleagues have expressed a desire to move back to Europe soon (<3 years, much less for many of them). It's a mix of a number of things (for many, family is a big component), but really the biggest one is that they don't feel that the opportunities the US offers are worth the sacrifices they have to make anymore. A particular sacrifice that comes to mind is their spouse being able to work - the Green Card process has been a shit show lately.
In fact, many of them are realizing that the "American Tech Dream" that was sold to them did not live up to expectations - particularly when it comes to things like being able to afford a house, education for children, healthcare, etc. in the Bay Area.
I've been in tech, in Silicon Valley, for 8 years, and this feels like it's really influenced by the Trump presidency (the moment Trump got elected, I have a few friends who left the US). But it's probably been brewing for longer than that, and I was just paying less attention to it at the beginning of my career.
FWIW I'm European and intend on leaving the US in <2 years for similar reasons (namely, that I can have a much better standard of life in Europe, be closer to my family, and do work that is as meaningful).
Noticeable in our hiring pipeline across iOS/C#/Java stacks.
Used to be a pretty diverse mix across Asian and Eastern European candidates, with a rare white US person mixed in.
Now it is pre-dominantly Indian.
Really don't like single-ethnic teams, so hiring is getting even more challenging in the Bay Area. We've also opened dev centers in the US mid-west and Canada to help with this.
Why would they stay? China is seeing a huge boom in the tech industry and it's only the beginning. The future is there, not in SV. I'm kinda jealous of my friends who learned Chinese in college and are now working there.
I am curious what the definition of an 'AI engineer' is.
a) someone with an undergraduate/graduate/doctorate degree in CS with specialization in AI/ML?
b) someone with a non-CS degree (Math/EE/CE/Other) who specialized in AI/ML?
c) someone who attended an AI/ML course on Coursera?
This makes sense by the simple observation that, all other things being equal, most people will want to live and work in what they consider their homeland. For many people who have come to the US, they have come not to find a new homeland but rather to get wealthy and pursue opportunity.
This is an admirable thing. But as China develops and grows - conditions becoming more equal between the US and China - it's only natural that Chinese expats will find that they can seek "riches" in what they feel is their homeland.
There's nothing wrong with this, and in fact will be good for people of all nationalities as competition increases for talent.
> Of the more than 850,000 AI engineers across America, 7.9 percent are Chinese, according to a 2017 report from LinkedIn.
850,000 sounds way way too high.
> While Chinese engineers are well represented in the Valley, the perception is that comparatively fewer advance to the top rungs, a phenomenon labeled the “Bamboo Ceiling.”
American culture does reward asshole-behaviour a lot more than one can tolerate sometimes. It's definitely not just a conservative problem, so don't go blaming it on Trump.
Money is the king. Seriously there are people that prefer their own familiar environment but a logical explanation is if you can get significantly more money elsewhere why not to go ? After all you can retire early and live wherever you want. You would be surprised how many brilliant engineers work have small coffee shops around the world not caring about money anymore.
Shanghai is "smog-choked"? The AQI is the same as San Francisco.
The score is easily 10x worse in other cities but specifically Shanghai seems overblown.
> "850,000 AI engineers across America"
No surprise from an opportunity standpoint. Certain research fields are now much better funded in China. That said, reasons for moving home are most-often individual/personal.
Throughout this thread, I see a lot of solid reasons for a Chinese Expat in SV to give returning to China thoughtful consideration. That said, one hard negative moving from non-China into China is the availability of modern, standard-practice develop tools. Replicating the tools/DevEv within China is certainly possible, but requires effort and is often frustrating. VPN hot potato is getting more frequent & homegrown China DevEnv tools are often dramatically different from the tools common to non-China business.
I think it's not just Chinese, but pretty much most immigrant have a stronger desire to go back home. Speaking as an immigrant myself,i don't think most of us came to the US because we loved american culture, we came for the opportunity, and as more and more opportuinity open up in culture closer to our native cultures, going back make more and more sense.
The other aspect i didn't see mentioned is that dating for an average immigrant man (which are still the majority of the immigration in tech) is a brutal experience; between the skew gender ratio, the ruthlessness of modern/app based dating and increasing intolerance against "conservative values" etc... for anecdotal sample, a large population are just leaving to escape the loneliness and try to start a family
What is this bamboo ceiling in tech that they are talking about? The last time I checked the CEOs of Microsoft and Google weren’t the stereotypical ethnicity.
This will be interesting as it seems to follow the Japanese and Korean models of growing talent abroad and returning home.
Unfortunately, the home they return to is not an ethnocentric utopia like Japan/Korea. It's an ethnocentric, smog/corruption ridden dystopia that just so happens to now be the world's economic superpower.
With America's global standing in the crapper thanks to decades of anti-immigration fearmongering policies lead by the GOP, it'll be interesting to see for how much longer it can stand as the de-facto place for global STEM talent.
And if Trump and the white non-college working class have their way, the US wouldn't even be desirable place to go for higher education.
These white non-college working class people really do want to turn America into full stupid, and we need to do everything we can to de-citizenise them and disempower them.
A good way to fail is to do what failed people do.
Note that there is no possibility of the US dominating tech forever. This is the neoliberal world order that America must come to accept. The rest of the world is industrializing, and we are best when we can stand with them instead of avoiding them. This is also why we need things like TPP and NAFTA. China isn't the only player out there..
for many people on H1B the deal just seems worse
they aren't on a path to citizenship...and more often than not they are not on a path to wealth
they are gaining some useful experience but losing time
without a clear path to citizenship or wealth, it isn't clear why they are better off here