There Is Nothing Permanent Except Change
Change is a force that can’t be stopped.
Status quo people, status quo businesses will get left in the dust.
Some businesses realize this and are getting creative. Next month, the department store Nordstrom is opening a new store called “Nordstrom Local.” It’s an experiment, kind of a hybrid between online retail and the traditional department store. Nordstrom Local will be much smaller, with personal style consultants, a meeting area with full beverage service, areas to try on merchandise and curbside pickup for online purchases.
Nordstrom realizes malls are dying and people like to shop online, but that shopping in-person isn’t totally dead. Nordstrom is trying to give people what they want — personal service, speed and convenience. It may not work. It’s a total gamble. But they know they have to try something because the department store status quo isn’t working. Ask Sears or JC Penney.
And it’s not just stored. The status quo isn’t working for TV networks or the movie business. Old models are being turned upside down.
It’s not working for political parties either. The D.C. swamp that President Trump wanted to drain is more of a tar pit, with Republicans and Democrats content right where they are. You know you have a status quo problem when Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham are your party’s flag-bearers.
Status quo thinking is catching up with Republicans and Democrats. That’s part of the reason Donald Trump became President. But soon, a political version of Nordstrom Local will appear. It will be shiny and innovative and a lot of people will like it. Let’s just hope and pray that it is also anchored in America’s founding principles.
You Are the Answer
The power to change America’s course still resides with you.
It’s what the 9/12 project was all about — your ability to effect change with principles over politics.
It’s the opposite of what we saw this weekend from Steve Bannon.
60 Minutes sat down with Trump’s former chief strategist who said this:
STEVE BANNON: I’m going to be his wingman outside for the entire time, to protect—
CHARLIE ROSE: You will not be attacking Donald Trump?
STEVE BANNON: No, our purpose is to support Donald Trump. By the way—
CHARLIE ROSE: And destroy his enemies?
STEVE BANNON: To make sure his enemies know that there’s no free shot on goal.
I remember the days when we called out those who put blind faith in Obama.
Personality over principles.
Tell me what’s changed — how is Bannon any different?
Charisma over core values will always fall short.
I still believe one voice can change a community. And one community can change a state. And one state can change a nation. And one nation can change the world.
It starts at home. It starts with you. You are the answer.
And together, grounded in our shared principles, we can create durable and lasting change.
Our “Sputnik Moment”
Exactly 55 years ago today (what is it with this day 9/12?), Kennedy gave his famous “we choose to go to the moon” speech. In a span of just 12 years after Sputnik, we went from getting laughed at by the Soviets to landing on the moon.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik into orbit. The Soviets were kicking our butts. Two months later, we tried to keep pace by launching Vanguard TV3, but it exploded on the launch pad.
The “Sputnik moment” had occurred. We realized that we had to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
The modern day Space Race between nations is already afoot, but space is no longer the objective. It’s Artificial Intelligence. The “Sputnik Moment” has already occurred, and the race is on to be the first to birth intelligent machines.
The nation that develops AI “will be the ruler of the world.” That’s what Vladimir Putin said to a group of students last week in Russia. Was this Putin’s version of Kennedy’s “we choose to go to the moon” speech?
The styles are obviously a bit different. Whereas Kennedy was at his inspirational best, Putin was simply classic Putin: “when one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender.”
The race is on.
But what are we creating?
Last year, microchip maker Nvidia began testing their version of self-driving cars. But this car was different than others being tested by Google, Apple and Tesla. This car wasn’t programmed by a human, it programmed itself. It learned to drive by watching a human drive and then wrote its own program.
It’s the latest development in AI that has supporters excited and naysayers scared. It’s called “deep learning.” The problem is that some of these systems are becoming so complex, their human creators don’t even understand them anymore.
Machines are writing their own code and learning how to make decisions without being prompted to do it. Their style of reason and thought is completely alien to researchers trying to figure it out.
That’s what the world is racing to create. Super intelligence, that learns on its own, thinks in a completely alien way, and has no human morality.
Will history remember us as winners or losers of the AI race?