Posted by: Mark Nielsen | December 8, 2010

Wisdom and Warnings From the Woz

Steve Wozniak signing books.

Image via Wikipedia

Cover story at today caught my interest. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was interviewed in connection with his being a fellow at a newly-opened Silicon Valley computer museum.

Here’s the pull-quote that most caught my attention, as a reluctant gearhead who is nevertheless concerned about things non-technical, i.e. spiritual, practical and ethical:

Wozniak’s musings have undertones of science-fiction, drawing parallels between the internet and robots bent on taking over humanity.

“All of a sudden, we’ve lost a lot of control,” he said. “We can’t turn off our internet; we can’t turn off our smartphones; we can’t turn off our computers.”

“You used to ask a smart person a question. Now, who do you ask? It starts with g-o, and it’s not God,” he quipped.

Earlier that day, Wozniak said the biggest obstacle with the growing prevalence of technology is that our personal devices are unreliable.

“Little things that work one day; they don’t work the next day,” he said enthusiastically, waving his hands. “I think it’s much harder today than ever before to basically know that something you have … is going to work tomorrow.”

This is not fiction, however. Nor is it exactly science… more like philosophy, really.

We don’t always choose where we will go. Some “freedom” in Western culture is a bit of a myth, as sometimes we just get dragged along for the ride. And then things start falling apart, and we’re not sure how we got to this strange new place.

The computer I am typing this on, for example, despite being only about four years old, is rife with bugs and snags, old software that doesn’t work quite right with new systems, and registry errors brought on by changes we made — or that were made for us without our realizing when we surfed somewhere, or agreed to something, or downloaded something.

Planned obsolescence. A way of enabling of our addiction to our toys?, to acquiring stuff, to absolutely NEEDING an iPad, an Android, a Sync system in our new car, or a Wii for Christmas?

I’ve come to a point where I can ask the hard questions about what I want, and what I really need. Often life forces us to deal with the question, not just in terms of technology, but more broadly in terms of what we value and why. I’m not crystal clear on how I will answer that question, but I’m confident that I will find an answer that works. And it won’t be an answer I can find on Google.

As for the other “oracle” that starts with “G-o”, I AM still holds most if not all of the trump cards.



  1. Recently the actress Susan Sarandon was interviewed on the Oprah show.. Oprah had 3 Oscar winnwer actresses on and she asked Susan a question and I liked her answer!

    Oprah showed a picture of a young Susan Sarandon and asked Susan what advice she would give her younger self today. Susan said “I would give her the same advice I give my kids. Life is about makeing mistakes….. live your life. figure out what you did Right and what you did Wrong and learn to do better. Just do it faster than I did.”

    I really like that answer and I agree with Susan.

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