Startup culture and Web 3.0 – someone who knows this well is Silicon Valley legend Steve Wozniak. But the co-founder of the tech giant Apple is not uncritical. He revealed to FOCUS online why he advocates more regulation on the Internet and why he no longer buys the latest iPhone.
Corporate bosses, investors or politicians – they all demand that Germany must become more innovative again. But how does a company become innovative in the first place? One who has an answer is Steve Wozniak. Inventors are needed for real innovation, said the Apple co-founder and designer of the Apple II – the first really widespread PC – at the Digital X trade fair in Cologne.
“Inventors get ideas and want to run to the lab and try them out. It’s part of being an inventor,” says Wozniak. Many companies would come up with an idea today and later hire engineers to make it happen. “I’m saying it has to be the other way around: from day 1, engineers have to be on board who want to realize ideas, and the business has to follow.”
That was no different at Apple, said Wozniak. “I’ve always been an engineer, and at Apple I didn’t want to make big bucks, I wanted to showcase my engineering skills.”
However, Wozniak also criticized many technological developments in his speech. “For AI [artificial intelligence], I only believe in the ‘K’ in the name,” Wozniak said. So far, we don’t even know how the human brain works properly, and we already want to rebuild it. But AI is not ready yet, Wozniak said. “AI is very good at specific problems, but if you change the rules even a little bit, the AI has to relearn everything.”
Wozniak also dished out against well-known tech companies: “How can it be that even the dumbest human driver can adapt to the smallest changes, but Tesla’s autopilot can’t?”
The Apple co-founder was noticeably unenthusiastic about Elon Musk’s vehicles: “They have the most terrible user interface. I’ll never touch a Tesla again,” Wozniak said. The better cars, Wozniak continues, are built by Mercedes. Their design is made for people and is intuitive – “just like Apple’s products”.
However, the engineer did not want to lean too far out of the window when it comes to future technologies. Wozniak did say that quantum computing could be the “next big thing” in Silicon Valley. “I don’t like looking too far into the future, though.” When he was still at Apple, he was able to say what would be on the market in a year’s time – “because I worked on that myself. But every time I’ve made a prediction over two years, I’ve been wrong,” said Wozniak.
Wozniak is also skeptical about so-called “Web 3.0”, new technologies such as blockchain, and also the increasing networking of devices. “I loved the early internet – you were free from the control of the powerful and rich. It’s not like that anymore, and that’s a shame.”
The intentions behind many new technologies are good, Wozniak continued. When asked by FOCUS online whether users are more controlled by new technologies, the 72-year-old replied: “Today it is difficult to really own something, even a car! You set a temperature of 23 degrees in the car, take the dog out and come back to find that the temperature has been changed – and why? Because the AI thinks they know better than you!”
In order to prevent the actual users of the Internet from losing control in the end, Wozniak also advocates stronger regulation by politicians. “Here, Europe and Germany are ahead of the USA. I’m always happy when I hear when a large tech company has been put in its place again.”
Incidentally, Wozniak was long associated with his former employer: “I’ve always bought the latest iPhone,” revealed Wozniak to FOCUS online – “at least until now”. In the meantime, the device generations would be too similar: “I also have the Apple Watches 5, 6 and 7 at home – and I can no longer see any differences! I don’t need new equipment anymore if the only reason for doing so is just to show that you’re up to date.”