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Apple’s Steve Wozniak Shares Insights on Innovations Present and Past

Randy Sukow

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Apple’s Steve Wozniak Shares Insights on Innovations Present and Past

Attendees at the recent CFC Forum in Boston had the rare opportunity to hear first-hand from one of those who was three at the beginning of the digital revolution. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak regaled the audience with tales of Steve Jobs, the Apple II and the beginnings of the internet. NRTC CEO Tim Bryan was fortunate enough to occupy the interviewer’s chair, where he also asked Wozniak about issues that affect rural America today.

“I live in the one part of Silicon Valley that has no broadband … I very much sympathize with the fact that a lot of people do not have broadband,” Wozniak said, describing life at his home in the California mountains. “Many times, my wife and I at midnight have driven five minutes to an Apple Store in town [Los Gatos, CA], linked on to the network there and downloaded stuff until 4 or 6 in the morning.” He said, his current solution is a microwave antenna on the roof that links to a nearby ISP. “We pay a huge amount of money, but we get 10 megabits guaranteed at our home. That’s enough to watch a movie,” he said.

Wozniak said that he recently acquired a home in Denver where he has “real broadband” after living without for a long time. “I put up with it too long.” He also empathised with those outside wireless coverage.  “We take long road trips and we’re in a lot of places that don’t have any cellular connection,” he said. “What if you have an RV and you want to park somewhere and you don’t want to give up all the good things the bandwidth brings us?”

Bryan sought Wozniak’s views on machine learning and artificial intelligence, which could one day lead to self-driving cars or even highly automated electric utilities.

“Machine learning is one thing. It analyzes all the data and makes guesses about you and your life and what you might want. They call it ‘artificial intelligence.’ I agree with the ‘A.’ I don’t agree with the ‘I,’” he said. Science still does not know “how the brain is wired” and cannot clearly define where and what a human memory is, he said. The capability to successfully build a brain does not yet exist.

“I was at a company once, where the engineers figured out how to make a brain. It takes nine months,” he said. In the meantime, he praised the Tesla highly, but urged caution over the self-driving mode. “Our Tesla has tried to kill us dozens of times. It can’t recognize some simple things that the dumbest human driver would recognize and adapt to,” he said.

Wozniak also shared views on the role of cloud computing, the social media trends and the qualities that go into a technology innovator. CFC is making a video of the full hour-long interview available to its members on its website.

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