Why Was Silicon Valley So Obsessed with LK-99 Superconductor Claims? – Slashdot

Why Was Silicon Valley So Obsessed with LK-99 Superconductor Claims? – Slashdot




from the current-affairs dept.

What to make of the news that early research appears unable to duplicate the much-ballyhooed claims for the LK99 superconductor?

“The episode revealed the intense appetite in Silicon Valley for finding the next big thing,” argues the Washington Post, “after years of hand-wringing that the tech world has lost its ability to come up with big, world-changing innovations, instead channeling all its money and energy into building new variations of social media apps and business software…”

[M]any tech leaders are nervous that the current focus on consumer and business software has led to stagnation. A decade ago, investors prophesied that self-driving cars would take over the roads by the mid-2020s — but they are still firmly in the testing phase, despite billions of dollars of investment. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have had multiple hype cycles of their own, but have yet to fundamentally change any industry, besides crime and money laundering. Tech meant to help mitigate climate change, like carbon capture and storage, has lagged without major advances in years. Meanwhile, Big Tech companies used their huge cash hoards to snap up smaller competitors, with antitrust regulators only recently beginning to clamp down on consolidation. Over the last year, as higher interest rates have cut into the amount of venture capital and slowing growth has caused companies to pull back spending, a massive wave of layoffs has swept the industry, and companies such as Google that previously said they’d invest some of their profits in big, risky ideas have turned away from such “moonshots…”

Room-temperature superconductors would be especially relevant to the tech industry right now, which is busy burning billions of dollars on new computer chips and the energy costs to run them to train the AI models behind tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. For years, computer chips have gotten smaller and more efficient, but that progress has run up against the limits of the physical world as transistors get so small some are now just one atom thick.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.


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