It could be a form of what happened with Telemark boots and bindings. With old leather boots, they would get all broken down and soft. Then boot makers came out with burly plastic boots. At that point, boots held up well, but people started ripping bindings out of skis. So then we went to beefier screws. So then binding toepieces started cracking. And so on. Each improvement pushed the weakness of another component.
Maybe strong spokes that are more reluctant to break pass on stress to rims already potentially compromised by anodizing and heat treating processes. I NEVER break spokes, but I'm a rim killer. I guess miles of trouble-free riding is some compensation, compared to the annoyance of constantly breaking spokes, but it seems like there was a time when you could get a wheel to last without breaking either one.
On a couple of fixed gear wheels built with Weinmann concaves, I literally rode the races right out of the hubs without breaking a spoke or a rim. That included brakeless kickback stops and plenty of rough roads. It gets hard to keep track of all the substitutions as parts wear out or get damaged, but I know I've laced at least one replacement hub into a Weinmann concave, and may have done it twice. I've only ever replaced a concave due to crash damage. And that was just for aesthetics because I didn't want to keep riding what I'd bashed and tweaked back to acceptable straightness for the brakeless rear of a fixed gear. Sheer indulgence. I did ride it for several years, six or more, before changing it out.
My big weakness is that I can't really stand to ride a crappy bike. Even my beaters have character and become friends.