Woz: We made machines too important; that makes us the family pet

“Steve Wozniak captivated the crowd Friday night at the MassMutual Center, telling stories from the early days of Apple, promoting technological advances like self-driving cars and describing the philosophy that has driven him to such success,” Brian Steele reports for MassLive. “‘Everything you do should have a little bit of fun,’ said Wozniak. ‘What is success in life? … I don’t want to frown.'”

“‘When we started, we had a really lousy idea of what a computer was for,’ he said, referring to himself and Steve Jobs, who founded Apple in the Jobs family garage in 1976. They thought about people using home computers to store recipes and balance their checkbooks, but that would be just ‘a $2,000 word processor if we ever came up with a printer,'” Steele reports. “Time, tenacity and talent grew the company from its meager roots into the world’s leading technology giant. When Jobs died in 2011, some analysts wondered if the company would suffer. Wozniak said that shouldn’t have been a concern because the people who run it now are top-notch, and the sheer financial power ‘buys a lot of opportunities for failure.'”

“Wozniak spoke openly about Jobs’ death, saying it ‘hit me emotionally.’ Jobs would call Wozniak in the later days of his life and the two would look back at the times they shared,” Steele reports. “Dismissing the concern over giving artificial intelligence too much intelligence, he said that’s already happened. ‘The machines won 200 years ago. We made them too important,’ said Wozniak. ‘That makes us the family pet.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As always, we love Woz, an idiosyncratic genius if ever there woz one!

40 Comments

    1. My iPad and iPhone treat me well enough, so I’ll probably stick around. Androids live next door, and their humans don’t look very happy.

  1. Um, OK Woz.

    Maybe he’s been reading too much sci-fi. But his point certainly is a danger. Machines/computers/robots are only tools. If at any point computer devices become anything other than a human controlled tool, someone severely screwed up.

    IOW: Anyone creating a computer device that thinks for itself and becomes autonomous, should be shot. Their device should be tossed in a crusher immediately. Pretending we humans can play ‘god’ by creating some mechanized pseudo life form is beyond utter folly and will actually create nothing better than a menace. But knowing we humans fairly well, I expect some dolt will pull this lunatic stunt anyway. That’s what portable EMP devices are for. 😀

    1. I suppose I should point out that some sci-fi also considers computer-as-tools too much as well. My favorite book on the subject is Dune by Frank Herbert. Ever in the background of the story is the ‘Butlerian Jihad’ when all computer devices were destroyed and outlawed. Using drugged humans (or something remotely there of) was considered preferable. It still ends up a big mess.

      1. In the long run AI could threaten humans directly, but I think there is a much greater near term threat.

        That is that wealthy and powerful humans with AI can make the rest of humanity obsolete. When AI is cheap enough (and it will be) to replace 99% (or even 100%) of human labor with machines with higher intelligence, current questions about unemployment and distribution of wealth are going to look quaint.

        Intelligence capable of redesigning itself isn’t just the biggest and last technological step we will ever take, but is comparable to milestones in life such as its beginning, multi-celled life, the first neurons, brains, language, technology … now self-designed life.

        Anyone who thinks a major milestone in the Universe is going to happen without a completely rearrangement of what life means hasn’t understood what is happening.

        People dismissed cars right up until they crossed the threshold of being more efficient/easier/reliable than horses. In a much bigger way, we will see machines as just tools …. right up until they pass the threshold of being more capable than we are. But as soon as they surpass us, they will surpass us by a mile.

        Most of us are going to live through the beginnings of this transition. Hopefully we can distribute the vast wealth it will create in a way that enriches the world, instead of destroying more of the past than is necessary.

        1. I personally do expect a sort of ‘fundamentalist’ backlash, a new Luddite sort of response eventually. But I have vague visions of a lot of things. I simply know that around my world, machines are only there to help me, as much as any old screwdriver.

          1. The machines, if they took over would allow the endless wars to run on for a while to reduce us to a sustainable population. At the same time the humans most ruled by their murderous instincts would kill each other in those wars. In the end we uns would be pacified except for a scattered resistance movement. (In sci fi there is always a Resistance.)

            The machines main business would be trying to evolve us away from our animal nature so we don’t piss on their circuitry.

            1. As others have pointed out previously, read the Robot series by Asimov. He imaged The Three Rules of Robotics, which are far saner than anything that we humans will actually enact. And even then, the robots pursue what is in their consideration ‘best’ for mankind and it is something along the lines of what you stated.

              We’ve known since the 1960s that the single worst problem mankind faces, apart from our deceptive perception of ‘truth’ (which I expect will be why we kill ourselves off in the end) is: OVERPOPULATION. We’re way over the carrying capacity of the Earth to the point where we are actively destroying our ability to survive in the future. It’s that blatant. And despite all the lovely fantasies of ‘sci-fi’, we have nowhere at all to go. Earth is our only home. We either adjust to the carrying capacity of the Earth or we make an ever accelerating HELL our of lives here. At this point in time we in the ‘first world’ have no idea just how bad it can get. But I’ll stop there as the point is for us to grow up as a species and cast away our childish ways, such as endless, careless baby making.

        2. Sadly most humans have NO real idea of how machines work or how software works.

          It’s easy to say flying car, it’s really hard to make one work well. Same with AI.

          Ps making a machine pretend to be human is getting closer. However, the positronic brain is still a long way off. Also super long duration batteries.

          Just saying.

    2. I concur.

      As Alan Parsons stated in 1977:

      “I Robot… The story of the rise of the machine and the decline of man, which paradoxically coincided with his discovery of the wheel… and a warning that his brief dominance of this planet will probably end, because man tried to create robot in his own image.”

      1. As I pointed out to 2ndmate, we have source problems that drive all the other problems we humans suffer. This AI, robot and human cloning stuff (we have’t leapt into that subject yet) is TRIVIA compared to where we are self-destructively driving ourselves thanks to our core problems.

        Aren’t I being cheerful? But someone has to start the point out our need to grow up and take charge of our responsibilities as the dominant animal on our one and only home planet.

  2. I was at the event and the context of this quote was how machines will be able to offload our responsibilities in life, such as driving. Steve would also like to see a more interactive platform where a computer could be your teacher. It was an interesting talk.

    1. Well, the way many Americans drive I think we’d be better off handing control to a computer. And with some of the idiot texters, better off with an untrained monkey.

    2. When the machines/computers take over too much, we get people like Prince Charles, who Uffa Fox wrote about in the 50s.

      The royal family came to Cowes for the sailboat races and stayed with Uffa (a famous sailboat designer) and his family.

      At breakfast one day Prince Charles about 10 years old, wanted some more Applesauce out of a tin can. Uffa said “Around our house we get our own extras (no servants.) Prince Charles picked up the can and was told where the can opener was, but Prince Charles had never seen a can opener before and didn’t know how to use one.

      It reminds me today of the car thief who got caught trying to steal a car because he got in but couldn’t figure out how to drive a stick shift.

  3. The only viable solution to transportation is to have at least 5 times as many busses with cubicles for 4 people each running a schedule 3 times as often as they do now. The car needs to die and we need busses and taxis only. If you do the accounting, it is much cheaper than car ownership.

  4. ‘The machines won 200 years ago. We made them too important,’ said Wozniak. ‘That makes us the family pet.’”

    This is why a vacation off the grid (leave the c-phone at home) is so good! paddle a canoe; climb a mountain; backpack; ride a bike without the “watch” or phone; fish; swim; museum; rent a place with a front porch, sit and rock.

    Take an interest in history and visit to historical sites; spend more than a day learning what it was like back then.

    Gotta have a machine? paraglide, go to an observatory; surf; bicycle and backpack over a trail; Go horse back riding and camping.

    LOTS of things to get off the grid and not let the machines rule. Even if they do in the normal daily life, it sure is nice experiencing what life is when you are with family or friends enjoying one another!

  5. “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” Anonymous. (Apocryphally attributed to Albert Einstein.)

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