When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, he had one idea on his mind: creating a service that could easily connect all Harvard students. And to do that, he leveraged his computer science skills to create a site that could do just that.
Similarly, when Travis Kalanick started Uber, he wanted to create a company that would make it so no one was stuck in the rain, frustrated, trying to hail a taxi. And to solve what he considered a major problem, he formed a team that eventually created the largest private transportation company in the world.
Now, do you think that either Zuckerberg or Kalanick’s motivations were to make billions of dollars through apps? No, they saw problems around them and used their technical backgrounds to solve them. But this thought process has seemingly vanished in today’s technology-centric world. Nowadays, throngs upon thongs of students are rushing into the field of Computer Science for sole purpose of accruing material wealth.
Computer Science as an undergraduate major has soared in popularity over the past few decades as various sites have noted its high employment rates and starting salaries. At the same time, public thoughts on the major have become less focused on research within the field and more on creating new billion dollar applications and websites.
Day after day, I am bombarded with advertisements from friends and complete strangers begging me to sign up for their new service that they self-title “the next Facebook”, “the better version of Yik Yak”, and the “next billion dollar idea.”
Day after day, I hear my friends and peers pursing Computer Science degrees talking not about the issues that they want to solve utilizing Computer Science, but about how they will be making six figures out of college or creating some new startup that will earn them billions of dollars in no time or about how [insert major company] is paying them thousands of dollars to code for them through a summer internship. And it is this type of attitude that annoys me.
The field of Computer Science has become confounded with becoming rich, working only on making applications and not about solving problems and I hope to see this toxic type of thought change.
Computer Science offers our generation a new way to tackle major problems and create new solutions for bettering our society. From creating methods to teach computers how to understand when someone is lying to making it faster than ever to analyze a data set, Computer Science researchers are making it easier for our society to better itself even faster. Computer Science is not just about simply making applications and startups; it’s about creating tools that make it easier and faster than ever to connect people across the world and give us new ways to understand old concepts.
So before you say, “I’m going to be so rich after creating [insert some cool tech startup here]”, just sit down and ask yourself, “Are you making a startup because you think you’re solving a problem or are you doing it just because you think it will make you money?” Because if it’s the latter, you may want to reconsider.