Thank you for the response Viktor!
I agree, I'm more a researcher than an engineer. But I don't think I chose wrong (I don't think we ever do, actually). I learned a lot and used this experience as a bridge to newfound professional lands. Also, I don't think everyone is like me (I don't think anyone thinks that of themselves).
I also agree about the differences in motivation between for-profit companies and Academia. However, we have a problem when what is being done in the industry is wildly exaggerated in terms of how successful it is, or how close we're to AGI.
Finally, we definitely don't learn like CNNs or any other neural network. Not even close.