The Best Tech Quotes of the Year

Most years, I round up the news of the year in technology through a collection of quotes, arranged roughly by some combination I make up of their importance and how much I like them. Here they are for 2018.

14. “He was that kind of guy. You know, an asshole. But a really gifted one. Our asshole, I guess.”

—A coworker at Google about Anthony Levandowski, the controversial self-driving car engineer. Published October 22

13. “How long is the wait usually to, um, be seated?”

—Google’s AI-powered Duplex, in a jaw-dropping demonstration of just how far voice-recognition has come. May 8

12. “A sense of open-ended mystery in reality and in life is absolutely core to being a good scientist or a good technologist or, for that matter, a good writer, a good artist, or just a good human being.”

—Jaron Lanier, the creator of VR, and now one of the philosophers of the industry. October 14

11. “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”

—Brian Acton, founder of WhatsApp, on his regrets. September 26

10. “We are now facing not just a technological crisis but a philosophical crisis.”

—Yuval Noah Harari, surely the most-read author in Silicon Valley, in conversation with Tristan Harris, surely one of the most influential voices of the past year. October 4

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9. “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

—Sanofi, the maker of Ambien, responding to claims by Roseanne Barr that the drug may have inspired a Twitter rant. May 30

7. (tie) “Senator, we run ads.”

—Mark Zuckerberg, in congressional testimony, explaining what the company actually does. The phrase quickly became a punchline at Facebook.
April 10

“Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.”

—Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, explaining why he can’t explain notifications on a device made by Apple. December 11

6. “Nothing is ever real until he sends the tweet.”

—A member of the Trump administration, natch. November 13

5. “I would rather spend time with the people that are 100 percent aligned with what I want to do and the person that’s most aligned with what I want to do is me.”

—Chamath Palihapitiya, CEO of Social Capital, explaining the turmoil at his firm. September 20

4. “I live with a beginner’s mind. I didn’t realize two weeks ago I was going to buy Time.”

—Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and now the owner of Time. September 17

3. “Avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI. Weaponized AI is probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI—if not THE most. This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google.”

—Fei Fei Li, an AI pioneer at Google, in an email to colleagues about the company’s controversial work on a Defense Department initiative called Project Maven.
Published May 30

2. “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

—Elon Musk, tweeting while driving to the airport. August 7

1. “The red line is miles behind us now. It’s no longer in sight.”

—Helen O’Neill, Crispr expert, after the first Crispr’d babies were born. November 29


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