I believe some of the best talent in our generation will go to adtech and some other to vaporware ideas. And vaporware ideas are okay, some exploit the user but others bring about new ways of doing things. But engineering better ways to serve ads will yield some technology advancements but it does cost humanity a lot in the long run. Businesses want to make money, business will pay best to those roles and people that bring in the money. But in some cases, like a personal email inbox is not a place for advertising and it's not a place to watch a person's every action.
Email should be private, it should be safe from prying eyes, and a person should not see ads in their inbox (unless they really want to by subscribing to them in marketing emails). But, it seems like over and over, each aspect of our digital lives is being invaded by companies who want to use any data possible to sell ads and train their AI models.
I got a paid email service about 4 years ago and since then, I slowly forgot about all the things within Gmail that are just ads. From the social and promotions tabs to the sponsored email at the top. The amount of spam you get in Gmail seems to be just higher than other services, even if it is hidden away.
Paid email is a weird concept. Email is a fundamental part of the internet, almost no real person out there uses the internet without an email address. Everything from your bank, the many different apps and websites, and some of your friends rely on your email address to connect with you.
Paid email seems like it's a premium thing but I think, just like paying for accessing internet, paying for email shouldn't be a weird thing. What I do find odd though is how private and safe email inboxes are only left for people who can afford to pay for them. What about people who can't afford to pay for them? Or people who are under 18 or do not make money? I think this is where family plans and cheaper plans in general need to exist. If email cost $10/year, or even $30/year for a family, it might make a lot more sense. In some cases, a limited sort of email should be available that doesn't invade the user's privacy, not every person needs to trade their data and privacy for near unlimited storage.
Most email providers rely on an all or nothing model, some give you totally free email but show ads and use your data for whatever purposes they want, others will charge for even the lowest tier of features and go up from there. I believe, there could be an option for a middle ground solution, something like a free option where email is limited in what you can do. No custom domains, no unlimited storage, and maybe some other mild restrictions. And upgrading will get you all the extra bells and whistles.