'We were promised flying cars': 25 quotes that sum up 2017

2017 brought us bitcoin explosions, Uber implosions and "covfefe." Here are the quotes that shaped technology and the world.

Claire Reilly
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2017 in one tweet

On the first of January we hadn't yet seen the online wonders of a Donald Trump presidency. There's no doubt the president's tweets have changed politics and redefined the rules of social media. And in between setting policy in 140 (and later 280) characters, this thoroughly confusing tweet trumped them all. Was it a code word? Only the president and a small group of people truly know.

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A bad year for Uber

Uber had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year. It opened with Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, publishing a blog post that alleged sexual harassment at the company. Then, a top exec resigned and The New York Times dropped an expose on a workplace culture run amok.

That was just the first two months of the year.

It didn't get better. In March, recordings surfaced of then-CEO Travis Kalanick haranguing an Uber driver who complained about falling fares and low pay. A bad look and worse timing. 

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Back to square 1.0

By June, an inquiry into sexual harassment allegations at Uber had offered a number of recommendations, including a call for a change in leadership at the ride-hailing service. Kalanick offered to take a leave of absence (in part to grieve the loss of his mother, who had died the month before). But with pressure on the company mounting and five Uber investors calling for his resignation, Kalanick ultimately stepped down.

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Your mea culpa is arriving now ...

Former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took on a mammoth task when he accepted the top job at Uber in late August. And then it got worse. Within a month, the new CEO was apologizing to Londoners after the city's regulator blackballed Uber over "public safety" concerns

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After the fire

Samsung had a rough 2016, when its flagship Note 7 smartphone was recalled because of an exploding battery. So company execs knew a lot rode on this year's launch of the Note 8. Thankfully, the reviews were strong and Samsung, the world's top maker of smartphones, could hold its own once more against rivals Apple and Google. 

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Silicon Valley buzz at its best (and worst)

Was a $400 internet-connected juice presser the symbol of Silicon Valley internet-of-junk gone wrong? Should consumers worry that their QR-coded Produce Packs might be be remotely deactivated? Is hand-squeezing a bag of fruit pulp the same as "hacking"? Did the company go bust? Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!

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Diversity at Google

Silicon Valley's so-called "woman problem" may have gotten even harder to solve after Google engineer James Damore published a 10-page manifesto titled "Google's Ideological Echo Chamber" in August. The treatise covered everything from Google's "left leaning" bias to the traits that supposedly prevent women from advancing in the tech world. Women and men across Silicon Valley slammed Damore's remarks, while conservative groups showed their support. Damore was ultimately fired, with Google saying Damore's view isn't one the company can endorse. 

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From a handful of allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to a movement that empowered women worldwide, the #MeToo hashtag defined a cultural shift in the worlds of entertainment, politics and technology in 2017. When actress Alyssa Milano shared those two words in October, she demonstrated how one tweet could set off a global call for action that can no longer be silenced.

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Harassment claims hit Silicon Valley

It wasn't just the film industry hit by harassment claims. Silicon Valley also felt the fire, with tech evangelist (and noted Google Glass fan) Robert Scoble forced to defend himself against multiple allegations of sexual harassment. In a 2,400-word blog post, he claimed women were using "grains of truth to sell false narrative."

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2017 made us WannaCry

In May, cybersecurity went mainstream with the arrival of WannaCry, a ransomware attack that crippled hospitals, phone companies and even traffic cameras. WannaCry spread across more than 100,000 organizations in 150 countries within days. But the threat of malware and hacking isn't behind us. As security experts say, it's not a matter of if, but when. 

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In September, credit-reporting agency Equifax revealed thieves had stolen the personal details of 145.5 million customers in a major data breach that left nearly half the US population vulnerable to identity fraud. Equifax was criticized for its handling of the hack and, if that wasn't bad enough, came under fire for repeated mistakes and glitches in the aftermath. To say that millions of people felt let down is an understatement. 

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The year Nazis came back ...

The tech community was quick to speak after white supremacists organized a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that led to protests, violence and several deaths. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg condemned the rise of the white supremacists, saying, "I know a lot of us have been asking where this hate comes from. As a Jew, it's something I've wondered much of my life."

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Technological enlightenment

The unassailable rise of technology was even felt in The Vatican this year. The Pope isn't necessarily against technology -- he drives an electric car, after all -- but it sounds like he wants his flock to go easy on the Insta filters during mass. 

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The notch

The iPhone X was arguably the most hotly anticipated device of 2017, a 10th-anniversary iPhone and tour de force showing off Apple's prowess among the tech pack. But even after strong reviews and praise for the phone's TrueDepth camera, a few gripes remained. That cutting -edge camera came with an irritating notch.

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Bitcoin unsettles the establishment

Remember when bitcoin was just for coders and dark-web dwellers? The cryptocurrency started 2017 valued just under $1,000 but touched highs of close to $19,000 by the end of the year. Even so, Jamie Dimon, the head of one of the world's largest financial firms, isn't buying into it. 

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A Big F***ing Idea

Ah yes, Elon Musk's "one more thing" for 2017. While outlining SpaceX's plans for space travel at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress in Australia, Musk threw something else in the mix by proposing a Big F***ing Rocket to get travellers from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes. Natch. 

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PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is the breakout game of 2017. The multiplayer battle royale shooter was only released on console in December and the PC version is barely leaving early access, but PUBG has already broken records for the most concurrent players on Steam

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The next big thing?

Over the past few years, the tech world has been busily talking up virtual reality. But plenty of people are waiting to see what VR will offer beyond gimmicks and games. According to the head of Apple, augmented reality (in which virtual images are overlaid on the real world) will be a game changer. 

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Double the fun!

In 2017, Twitter struggled to make money, as well as curb the bullying and trolling that plague it. In September, the company revealed a blockbuster move to reverse its fortunes: doubling the character limit of tweets! A bold strategy, Twitter. Let's see if it pays off. 

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The FCC won't let net neutrality be...

All internet traffic is equal, but some traffic may now be more equal than others. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai called Obama-era regulations dictating that carriers can't block or slow online traffic a "failed approach" to governing the internet. As a major tech issue with global ramifications for how we use the internet, however, net neutrality won't disappear without a fight. 

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The internet turns radical

Lawyer and former Senate staffer Jessica Rosenworcel is one FCC  commissioner who fought for net neutrality in 2017. Rosenworcel, who has served on the FCC since 2012, was renominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in August. She has spent much of her career pushing for expanded broadband access for low-income users and those in hard-to-serve areas. She's also an outspoken critic of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

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Artificial Intelligence, real threat

Good or evil? The war of words over artificial intelligence raged on through 2017. Elon Musk repeatedly sounded the warning over AI, calling on the UN to ban killer robots. He also warned that intelligent machines could start World War III. Fun times.

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RealLove with a RealDoll?

Forget blow-up plastic: The sex dolls of the future will be intelligent and responsive. The manufacturers of RealDoll are trying to bring their dolls to life through "Realbotix" and Harmony, an AI engine. They say they're well on the way to creating perfect robot companions.

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A 'smart' assistant

What happens when your smart assistant gets it terribly wrong? In March, Google was forced to apologize when its Google Home smart speakers started spouting seemingly random and crazy answers to questions. According to Google, the assistant pulls answers from the web. It turns out not everything online is accurate. Who knew?

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Our brave new world ...

Another tweet that summed up the rise and fall of technology in 2017. The world mourned when a roving, robotic security guard that patrolled an office complex in Washington was found half submerged in a fountain after going astray. Office worker Bilal Farooqui tweeted what we were all thinking: Robots aren't always a vision of a perfect future. (Likewise flying cars.) Fare thee well, fountain bot. Fare thee well.

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