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Wozniak: Necessity should drive innovation, not money

29 Jun 2015  | R. Colin Johnson

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Woz is not inventing things anymore. He drives a Toyota Prius rigged to carry two Segways (souped up with a homemade key programmer) and virtually invented the game of Segway Polo which is now played all over the world.

When asked what he thought of Android, he responded "the Apple iPhone set the course and the pattern. Apple products are made for people who are not experts, who don't have technical skills, Android has finally become useable in that way, and it had bigger screens first. Apple practically gave Samsung the big screen market for many years, but finally Apple has both big and small screens."

Inventors today have it easy, according to Woz.

"Intel microprocessors were hundreds of dollars in my day, which was hard to afford, but today you can buy a microprocessor on an Arduino board for $35. In fact, the Arduino guy was like me, he wanted a board that was affordable so he could do his own projects," Woz stated. "Today all the technology disciplines are available and cheap enough for everybody, but today most people are just trying to make money with computers rather than make them do things they want done."

When asked if robots were going to take over the world, he admitted that he had once worried about that, but no more.

"If you go into an airport and use the kiosk, that machine is taking over a job the same as they are doing at factories. So what happens when computers achieve conscious[ness]?" Woz asked. "Now I think it will be hundreds of years before computer [can] even be smart enough to take over, but by then they will understand that nature has to be preserved and man is a part of nature, so I'm not worried. Besides people want to be taken care of, we want to be the robots pets, that's why I take such good care of my dog. But if the machines will want to take over the world in the future, they have probably sent a message back from the future saying create the Internet of Things."

Woz predicted that self-driving cars will be here within five years and that eventually people will be prohibited from driving manually on the freeways. He also predicted that by then Apple will have its own car too.

His final piece of advice to engineers was to try and find clever tricks to use fewer patents to get the same job done, and that motivation is more important than content. "You want to work on things that you would like to show off to others," Woz concluded.

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