Bezos insisted the company needed to master anything that touched the hallowed customer experience, and he resisted any efforts to project profitability. “If you are planning for more than twenty minutes ahead in this kind of environment, you are wasting your time,” he said in meetings.
One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it. I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room and I got the scar tissue to prove it.
Be skeptical of concepts that divorce war from its political nature, particularly those that promise fast, cheap victory through technology.
Consider the life of Winston Churchill. He was born in 1874. Men still lived who had fought Napoleon. Ulysses S. Grant was in his second term as the American president and Karl Marx was just then in the British Library writing the Communist Manifesto. Mark Twain had written none of the books for which he had become famous. Electricity, radio, television, and telephones were still unknown and only the year before Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgets universities had met to draw up the first rules for a new game. It was called “football.”
When Churchill died ninety years later in 1965, men had orbited the earth, walked in space, and sent a probe to the surface of Venus. An automobile had already driven over six hundred miles per hour and sex-change operations had been successfully performed. Nuclear power had already come of age. Lyndon Johnson was the American president at that time and though he was considered an elderly man, he had been born when Churchill was already thirty-four. The year Churchill died, the Queen of England gave the Order of British Empire to the Beatles. It was an honor Churchill had also received, yet for a far different contribution in a far different age.
How does one life absorb such change? What must it do to one’s moorings, to that sense of connection to the flow of time and how a man experiences the rhythms of the world? Clearly, this was an ever-present challenge in Churchill’s life and it frequently filled his thoughts: “I wonder often whether any other generation has seen such astounding revolutions of data and values as those through which we have lived. Scarcely anything material or established which I was brought up to believe was permanent and vital, has lasted. Everything I was sure or taught to be sure was impossible, has happened.”
Just because your voice reaches around the world doesn’t mean you’re wiser than when it only reached the end of the bar.
The robot is going to lose. Not by much. But when the final score is tallied, flesh and blood is going to beat the damn monster.
Clearly this is the computer for consumers of radical kitsch, for the Pop Art coffee-shop culture, for the so-new-you’re-retro ’90s.