Recession, H-1B, A.I.: Big Things That Could Hit Tech in 2019

Things change: You don’t need some fancy-pants philosopher to tell you that. However, some change is bigger than others. With that in mind, here are some truly massive—we’re talking epic—changes that could alter the tech industry in 2019.

New Privacy Laws

One more massive breach—another 150 million Americans losing their personal data to hackers, thanks to some bad code—and the political pressure on Congress to do something about data and privacy might build past any sort of stopping point.

What would the resulting legislation look like? Last year, Ro Khanna, a U.S. Representative in California (D-CA 17th district), consulted with prominent members of the tech industry (including Tim Berners-Lee and Nicole Wong) and came up with a “Bill of Rights for the internet,” as Kara Swisher called it in a New York Times op-ed. That “Bill of Rights” included opt-in consent for the collection of personal data, and the right for users to easily port their data from one service to the next. In crafting the document, Khanna clearly borrowed a lot from GDPR, a set of laws in the European Union that regulate data usage.

While it seems somewhat unlikely that a GDPR-style suite of laws would slam down on the U.S. tech industry within the next 12 months, more breaches would compel lawmakers to do something about user data, eventually resulting in tightened laws. If the history of the GDPR in the EU is any indication, stringent privacy and user-protection laws would force companies to totally revamp how they handle and monetize data.

That would be very good for contractors who specialize in data storage, privacy, and associated areas (a crisis is always good for contractors). But you might also see companies voluntarily close up shop rather than change their business model to align with the new regulations.

H-1B System Changes

Like it or not, a lot of tech firms (and staffing companies that service tech firms) rely on H-1B and other visas to bring in offshore workers. Critics have argued for years that these visa-holders are taking jobs that should go to Americans; advocates of H-1Bs, meanwhile, argue that the visas draw in talent that’s otherwise unavailable.

When President Trump took office, he hinted at changing H-1Bs in some way. Some thought that meant he would rip out the whole visa system by the root. But over the past two years, his administration has introduced mostly gradual changes, including additional paperwork and restrictions on allowing the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work.

In 2019, those smaller changes—if combined with proposed changes to the H-1B lottery system—could nonetheless have a massive impact on how tech companies draw in talent. In turn, that could ripple into hiring (and firing) practices for many years to come.

Recession

In case you haven’t noticed, the stock market dove at the end of 2018. Unless you’re on the verge of retirement, or you panicked and sold all of your stock at the dip, that huge tumble is unlikely to affect you in the short term (especially as the markets seem to have retaken some of those losses in the past few days).

But the stock market isn’t the only sign that the economy might be a little wobbly. Debt is rising, the United States is locked in a trade war with China, and many economists fear that we could enter a recession sometime before 2020. Other indicators have also sagged, including small business confidence.

If the economy does go sideways in 2019, that won’t be good for tech. Smaller firms will have trouble raising new capital. Larger companies might engage in layoffs, if only to boost their quarterly margins. Expensive projects might end up terminated. If you’ve been in tech through a couple of economic cycles, you know what happens—and it won’t be pretty.

A.I. Could Turn a Corner

Skynet might become self-aware and launch a nuclear attack on humanity. It’ll be hard to run your startup from the radioactive rubble, unless you “pivot” and start selling cockroaches (this new world’s most popular food source!) instead of mobile apps.

We’re kidding! A.I. isn’t nearly sophisticated enough to launch a full-scale war against humanity. We hope. In the meantime, machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.) are evolving rapidly, and 2019 could mark some big developments in how we integrate those tools into products and workflows. Security, e-commerce, and even gaming could all be rapidly affected; and as A.I. goes mainstream, more tech pros will need to learn how to utilize it.

“Bit of a cliché but [machine learning] will no longer be something that you just buy,” Sophos CISO Ross McKercher wrote in a statement to Dice about the tech industry’s likely security changes in 2019. “Tools and techniques that were previously the domain of data science experts are getting easier to use. Won’t be long before larger SOC teams are using the tools directly rather than via models that are embedded in products.”

So maybe A.I. won’t destroy the world in 2019… but maybe it’ll make us a little bit safer.

9 Responses to “Recession, H-1B, A.I.: Big Things That Could Hit Tech in 2019”

  1. John Connor

    During all my experience I heard the following points at different offices who complaint or share their comments
    regarding the visas, here some comments I heard (I do not remember their names 🙂

    – The sponsors along with the attorneys know how to trick the system, even if this country does not need the type
    of worker they are importing (see their title or diploma, nothing related to tech or science)

    – Once arriving here, they do not have a Social Security number until they have a job (this way
    the sponsor does not pay to them anything and the IRS is not able to track the scam)

    – They pay back to the employer (sponsor) just to have a ‘flow’ of paychecks and at the end of the
    year they report phantom taxes, this way they can reside in the U.S. without a problem, visa = paycheck.

    – They are in the called ‘bench’ waiting for a job assignation, and guess what, they do not receive any
    payment during this time so the sponsor brakes the law also, I guess…

    – They are forced to work on other areas ( I heard a guy with Ph.D. was painting the house of the sponsor
    working like a slave (Penn state university), the price of a green card…)

    – They can transfer the visa to other sponsor in a minute, and the sponsor ask them to work until sunshine or more…

    – The request for evidence is a joke, they manufacture the evidence and nobody research if this evidence is genuine…

    – They change their name in the job posts for something more ‘American’ and you send your resume to them…

    – They copy your resume and then ‘assign’ your skills and experience to other resume cheaper than you…

    – They ask you about your social ID like linkedin in order to repeat your skills and copy profiles… now
    you did their homework easy…

    – They ask you for a copy of your passport, the last 4 digits of the SS in order to ‘create’ your profile

    – One recruiter share your information and income to another and another, at the end you almost work for free…

    – The employer of a company (Director, Leader, Manager, etc) who needs your skills, would like to be part of the previous chain
    of money and hire you (of course!) [See the pics for every IT department in the U.S.A.]

    – The initial job offer in the Visa paperwork is another joke, the salary NEVER is the one you reported to IRS, why? because
    you where under-paid and nobody contacted the sponsor to enforce or protect the imported worker salary…

    – Let me remember more cases and I will publish it in a book called : The chicken curry 🙂

    – Have a nice day IRS, USCIS, etc, etc, etc

    – If you hear something say something!

    – Thanks, bye.

    • Hi , I am so surprised to have the same situation. One of the companies Called me to get me a job in Tech field. I responded and they told me exactly Same story, creating my profile, 4 digits of my social, dr licence. Passport, green card etc. They kept calling me it just happened last week. I have this kind of issues before, their name sounds belong to my country (specific people called Singh) so I got suspicious, when they called me couple of time. I refused to provide the information.Be aware guys , lots of scams . Thanks for sharing this.

  2. The job visa scams are bigger and worst than anyone can imagine.
    I was shocked when I learned about a case last year. The person I am talking about was a software developer, back in India, working for a reputed US-based Indian firm. He bought his Manager, and manage to get a L1-A visa that was not meant for his skills and work experience. He came here and started working as a developer again. his company then applied for his Green Card under EB-1 category which normally takes 6months – 2 year to process. Only employees work in USA on L1-A are eligible to apply under this EB1 category.
    to be able to manage that, they created some false reporting hierarchies (on paper) to show that he was managing a team of 10-15 people. That person has got his green card last year. This all took less than 2 years. There are numerous cases like this everywhere.
    Having said that I don’t enough is being done to clean up this whole worker visa process.

  3. I feel for the government workers. But It is nice to see someone finding out what it is like to have the goverment take action and not have a job. Granted it is for a short amount of time. I have a degree in computer science. I have had no face to face interviews in the past. I can not get a face to face interview now. And I do not see in the future of getting a face to face interview. I have student loans and the letter I got was pay up or else.

    • John, unlike you and I, gov workers are really getting a paid vacation (to be paid in the near future) from a PERMANENT job. When we get laid off, there is no money-period—ever. We scramble. These are the same people importing cheap foreign workers to replace us. At least the visa processing stops — for a while.
      This is the real danger in the gov shutdown: regular people start comparing their lives to the priveledged lives of gov workers, that regular people pay for, realize their own lives don’t change if the gov shuts down, and ask “do I really need to keep paying for them ?”