Steve Wozniak knows a thing or two about innovation.
In a closing keynote conversation at Splunk .conf18 in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, the Apple co-founder discussed how his passion and curiosity for knowledge shaped his career trajectory, as well as his life.
“All my life, I liked finding interesting things, which might mean things that my friends didn’t know about,” he said. “I lucked out and stumbled into what became the love of my life: electronics.”
Wozniak said his ideas for Apple stemmed not from an aspiration for wealth or fame, but rather from a desire to build his own computer.
“I kept designing computers on paper; I never had the money to afford a single chip,” he said. “Sometimes the best things you do are because you have limited resources — space or money or whatever — and you want something so desperately. Wanting is more important than knowledge. If you see an end goal on a project and you want to build it, you are going to learn more than you could ever learn out of any book or any classroom or from any teacher.”
AI, IoT Boil Down to Evolution
Wozniak also talked about some of the some of the technologies that are catching his attention today, including artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and blockchain. However, he said, their development and use generally boils down to one principle: evolution.
“If you go back in time, machines always make humans more powerful,” Wozniak said. “From axes and hammers and starting fires, and now we’ve got robotics doing the work that it would take hundreds of humans to do in car manufacturing. That’s what technology’s about; we’re always trying to improve what humans can do and how much we can get done.”
Overall, Wozniak stressed education, both formal and informal, as the key to continued innovation. After leaving Apple, he taught computer classes to grade-school students, but said he didn’t want to teach kids to be computer geeks.
“I wanted them to just be good, normal students and somehow improve their lives by making their homework look better,” Wozniak said. “If your homework looks better — this is something I learned in psychology — the teacher praises you. That praise causes you to want to keep doing better work for the rest of your life. It’s a little bit of positive feedback. I wanted to reach every single student that way.”
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