I got some cards, like postcards, from Google Research when I was at AAAI-11 last month in San Francisco. On those cards, scientists talk about the reason they chose Google Research, mostly, instead of academia. I like these quotes very much:
- "Research at Google is inspired by real problems." - Corinna Cortes
- "I'm at Google because that's where the data is." - Peter Norvig
- "Our lab is the whole Internet" - Fernando Pereira
Real data and real problems! I like to see how my research can come out with something that can change people's life. Like, I need some sort of feedback to my work. O/w, it would be like playing with a dummy pet that does not respond you.
However, other than working for industry research, academia or non-profit research organizations, I think there is another way: starting up your business and funding your own research using your profit.