Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

Apple founder Steve 'Woz' Wozniak names his top tech trends

The company’s chief architect and longest-standing employee shares his views on IoT, cryptocurrency and AI

The co-founder and longest-standing employee of Apple, Steve Wozniak reveals his top tech trends to watch (and skip), in an interview with The National.

The Internet of Things

IoT, or the rise of software-embedded devices such as home appliances and garments, are rapidly transforming everyday life, according to Mr Wozniak in an interview with The National.

“What my watch has done to change my life is [amazing] … a lot of people don’t put on a smart watch and don’t use it fully to understand how thoroughly [transformative] it can be,” said Mr Wozniak, who set up Apple with Steve Jobs.

“I could wear shoes that I can take my iPhone and tighten and loosen the laces at will, and it’s all these little things in our personal lives and homes that have huge electronic powers – the Internet of Things is a really wide category,” he said.

Electric vehicles and artificial intelligence are the three most exciting technology trends under development at present, according to the co-founder of US-listed tech giant Apple.

Electric vehicles and AI

Electric and self-driving vehicles – something the UAE has been aiming to develop – and AI are the other top trends that could be truly life-changing, according to the innovator. However, AI (using accumulated data and machine learning to mimic human thought processes) is unlikely to ever become sophisticated enough to mimic the human brain, Mr Wozniak said.

Mr Wozniak is one of the founders of US lobby group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for and against a range of digital issues including mass surveillance enabled by technology. He told The National on the sidelines of the GCC Financial Forum in Bahrain that he is alarmed by the vast amounts of personal data collected by technology companies to develop their products.

“Technology is technology, and the user is a human being, and [companies must decide] what sort of principles they want to [adhere to],” he said. “Are you going to spy on your own kids, are you going to spy on your friends, what sort of a person are you?”

“Maybe, in future, we’ll look back and say hey, people were different in the past [for caring about personal privacy] – we’re good now and we like our life,” he said.

Blockchain

Mr Wozniak is hesitant on cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, together with the virtual currencies that use the digital record-keeping technology, “has yet to make its point”, he says, and needs further development and adoption before the general public fully understands what it could do.

Cross-border skills

Apple’s chief architect called for nations to facilitate cross-border transfer of skills to boost innovation in technology, while also nurturing local talent.

He urged the US to carefully consider the number of so-called H1B visas awarded to skilled foreign graduates, to maintain US competitiveness. For years, H1B visas have enabled the temporary immigration of workers in high-growth industries such as technology. The visas have played a key role in building the pool of talent in Silicon Valley and other hubs, and spurred business growth.

That said, protectionism is generally unhelpful to economic development, Mr Wozniak added, saying he is “a firm believer in immigration” and the importance of “being open” as a country.

“That’s what leads to better products and better business.”

Updated: February 28, 2019 03:42 PM

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