The World According To Woz

Steve Wozniak requires very little introduction. As co-founder of Apple Computers, along with Steve Jobs he played an integral role in shaping a company which went on to become a cornerstone of 21st century culture.

Nowadays you could describe him as the Prince Harry of Silicon Valley; he’s still on the Apple payroll, sure, but he is the first to admit his role is of the hands-off variety. He has no idea what is currently going on at Apple, and nobody tells him, because as he puts it, “I talk a lot!”

Wozniak was the headline speaker at the first ever Business Rocks festival in Manchester, where he reminisced about the early days of Apple, chatted about what makes him happy in life, and looked to the future.

Woz on mentorship

Apple wouldn’t have been possible, says Wozniak, had it not been for the guidance of Mike Markkula, whom he describes as “the Apple founder you won’t have heard of.” Markkula’s investment, expertise and advice were crucial to the early days of Apple, and Wozniak maintains to this day that the right mentoring and support can be the making of a start-up.

Woz on happiness

Stress is a fact of life, especially if you work in Silicon Valley — but it’s important to never let that overshadow what makes you smile. “I decided I wouldn’t be bothered by things,” says Wozniak. An engineer to the core, he has developed his own formula for happiness over the years.

To begin with it was “H = S – F”; happiness equals smiles minus frowns. Now, it’s “H = F3”; happiness equals food, fun, and friends. The only time Wozniak ever told a lie, so he says, was in the service of a great prank — something which happened often at Apple.

Woz on AI

In Isaac Asimov’s oft-cited fictional world, the first rule of robotics dictates that no robot can harm a human. “That is not true artificial intelligence,” says Wozniak, who posits his own rule. “Woz’s Law” would mandate that no human being can harm a thinking, self-aware robot.

“They’ll probably be as imperfect as humans,” he says. “This fear that the robots will decide they’re superior, rise up and take us over… That’s just like human conflict.” That’s not to say a robotic uprising isn’t on the cards, but Wozniak thinks it’s a few hundred years away. “The workings of the world are too huge, and require so many groups communicating and cooperating… It will be centuries before AIs talk to each other enough to achieve this.”

Similarly, he imagines that one day a company with human thinkers will be slower and less efficient than one with AI workers, but that’s not something any living generation will have to worry about.

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