Innovation Summit 2017

Innovation Summit 2017


I was invited to the Innovation Summit 2017 to interview Steve Wozniak, “The Woz”. Here’s the link to the video.

Below you can also find the audio of the interview and the transcript

 

 

Andrea Poggi:
Thank you, Steve. Thank you for coming. Thank you, really. It’s an honor for us that you are here with us. I have to ask you something because yesterday my children asked me to ask this question to you. What made you understand that there was something exceptional when you decided to launch to change this industry?

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yeah. It’s really a combination of … It’s like they say you’ve got to work 10,000 hours at something to get very skilled, and I had put all this work in when I was a kid, learning to design computer equipment, never thought I would have it as a job, but I’d already gone through a stage of designing. I got to where I could design the processor of any computer in two days when I was in high school. I told my father, “Someday I am going to own a 4k computer,” because a 4k computer was the minimum computer that you could type programs in and do useful things.

 

 

At a certain point in time I noticed that all the elements were in place, but I wanted to make that machine, and I would make it for myself. Didn’t think, “Oh, this is for the world.” Usually, you discover that after the fact. This is a good thing. My designs were like five years ahead of what everyone else was doing. They were building computers by the old, old way. Anyway, I wanted to empower people.

 

Andrea Poggi:
Empower people.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yes, allow them to communicate faster. Communicate faster meant 100 people in one hour, could read your message.

 

Andrea Poggi:
Yeah.

 

Steve Wozniak:
I wanted to improve education. I wanted the little geeks that knew how to program a computer, going to their company, type in the financial data, and pop out the strategies for a company, and be so important, just as a geek that didn’t know a thing about business. I was so inspired. I saw that if anybody with a computer can learn to program it pretty easily, and then they can do more things that they could never do by themselves. I want to empower people.

 

Andrea Poggi:
Empower people.

 

Steve Wozniak:
I thought that in my head, but there was no market. There was no way to get funded to have a company and I had no money. Steve Jobs came by and said, “We should start a company.” He saw what I had done. He’d been doing that for about five years. Every time he came into town he said, “What do you got lately?” And he’d find a way to get money for it. We started this company, and I loved my own company, Hewlett Packard. I was so loyal. We built equipment for engineers, so we, engineers, were the marketing team. We knew what was good for us, what was good for the products. I loved it and I was going to be an engineer for life, at Hewlett Packard, only an engineer. That’s all I wanted to do, I love it so much.

 

 

Here I was and had to leave Hewlett Packard, and we started a company, but we had an exceptional product that was so far ahead of everything else, and it was also games. You know what? When you start a business, somebody has to have a reason to buy your product. In our case, if you’re going to take a computer in the home … Computers meant dry, factory floors, the databases, and calculations, and company payrolls, and inventory. Nobody wants that in their home. You had to play games. I had experienced designing games in hardware, where it took half a man-year usually to create a game prototype. Arcade games was the new industry.

 

 

The Apple II computer that we started this computer with was the first time ever arcade games were in color, first time ever that they were software, so a nine-year-old kid could write programs to make things move on a screen very easily. That was a huge thing.

 

Andrea Poggi:
Very interesting.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Then we were able to look for money, but we had no idea how to get money. Steve and I had zero savings accounts, zero rich relatives so that was-

 

Andrea Poggi:
Your first objective goal was to empower people?

 

Steve Wozniak:
I wanted my own computer, because I knew that I could go into work at Hewlett Packard and type in programs and solve problems without having to use one big, expensive computer that 40 engineers shared and signed up for time slots. I would have my own, right on my desk, and type in programs. That was part of my engineering job, so now I was independent.

 

Andrea Poggi:
Okay. Thank you Steve, very interesting. I think David Orban [Italian 00:04:21].

 

David Orban:
That was a wonderful start because we live in the intersection between past and future. We call it present. We want to be able to interpret the past in order to forecast the future, and it’s not easy. Your experience illustrates when you can leverage what is happening, when you can recognize the signs of a future that is coming indeed, you can achieve incredible results. That is what happened with Apple in the ’70s.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yes, and oddly, in my own case, in creating the computer that would be all of Apple’s revenues for the first ten years of the company, creating the computer all by myself, I was thinking that, “Boy, I want to empower people,” but I also wanted more people to have a chance to do it.

 

 

In a club, we were talking. We had Stanford professors. We had Berkeley professors talking about the social revolution changes that would happen. I wanted to create the hardware that would help it. I would show it off, but I gave away my designs for free of the computer that eventually became the Apple 1. Steve Jobs didn’t know it existed yet. I gave it away for free because I wanted to help everybody else start a revolution.

 

 

We felt we were onto something exciting and important, and we called it a revolution. These small computers, everyone in the world is going to want one. The big companies were saying, “Eh, it’s just a little hobby.” They weren’t interested. That made us even more believing in ourselves.

 

David Orban:
Apple II was famously open, people could hack it. People could augment its capabilities. That was a strong desire from your side.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yes. We started our real company with funding, with high profit margins on a great product. The Apple II, the one that was video games in color, arcade games that were software and immediate … I forget what you said to lead into this, but-

 

David Orban:
Well, that it was an open system that people could add parts to.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Oh, open. Well it was a platform. No, but it was a platform. A computer is a platform and you plug things into it. It’s one area that Steve Jobs and I disagreed in. Steve had no experience with real computers, other than barely, barely in school, typing on a Teletype to a computer way far away. It was timesharing system from General Electric, that typed back to the Teletype. That’s all he knew that computers were like. He didn’t realize that engineers plug in extra devices that can be music keyboards, can be sound-makers, all these things you think of doing.

 

 

He didn’t want to have as much openness. He only wanted two slots because all you needed was a printer and modem. Well, that was his experience and I just said, “Well, go get another computer. My way or the highway. It’s designed with eight slots and that’s what it’s going to be.” That lead all these little companies startups. Sometimes high school kids could start companies. For the first time they ever imagined, college kids, young people, starting companies to build little boards of electronics, that plugged into a computer, and gave it more capability, and they could always write programs too.

 

 

We had a platform. When you start with a platform it’s got to have growth, and openness is the best way to do that. If you think about a closed product, it stays the same and then when you say, “Oh, here’s the next step the computers can go in,” you have to go back and redesign everything from scratch. Yeah, maybe you can make a little bit cheaper computer by being closed, but in that day, computers had to have a lot of room to grow.

 

David Orban:
In some sense, this kind of openness, since then, really permeated a lot of things. Google or Facebook couldn’t exist without open software, open hardware, and open innovation for enterprises, is now leading the way to internalize even more these kinds of processes.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Even myself, yeah.

 

David Orban:
Innovating the business models too.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yeah. I run into so many people and they want to go, “Okay, open source software starting with the operating system Linux and this and that.” Because then you’re not subject to the whims of Microsoft or Apple. They might change an operating system, and you’ll have to go back to the drawing board, and fix things just to make them work. You’re more in control when it’s open source.

 

 

Plus, you can easily add-on or change slight aspects of your computer to fit your needs so you have a little advantage over your competitors.

 

David Orban:
At the beginning really, large companies like IBM or HP were completely unaware, or they didn’t realize how big a revolution personal computers would be.

 

Steve Wozniak:
That’s right. I worked at Hewlett Packard at the time, and I told Steve Jobs, “I will not do anything to risk my job at Hewlett Packard.” It was the job I wanted for my life. I was so loyal to the company. I proposed the computer to all my engineering managers up the chain, and the marketing people. I got turned down for the first of five times by Hewlett Packard, for the personal computer. They just didn’t think it was going to be big business. It wasn’t easily sellable. It wasn’t so professional equipment and all this stuff. The other big companies still thought the same.

 

 

Although, you have to admire, IBM, a few years later, had the forewithall to actually enter the market with the IBM PC, and that pretty amazing. They did it by setting up a division way out in Florida that operated independently, and could think, “What can we build?”

 

David Orban:
Yeah, the way that larger companies can revolutionize the way they themselves do business is by protecting these innovative parts. Otherwise, they are cannibalized, within the larger organism.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yup. You’re protecting your self from disruption, too. If you think, “Here’s a new technology that might become important, even though it might not, and let’s be there to make sure we’ve got it capitalized.” It’s one of the reasons that I’d like to propose a lot of companies have a Chief Disruption Officer, who doesn’t report to the CEO, reports to the board, an independent type role, to really look at things, not from the perspective of, “How are we making money today,” but “What are some of the different approaches that might become common in the future?”

 

David Orban:
Is this capacity to innovate and disrupt oneself independent from the industry sector? Are there skills that one can cultivate in order to prepare both the personal trajectory and the company they work with to survive?

 

Steve Wozniak:
I get asked this a lot, and I think about it a lot. Are there techniques, like a spreadsheet, “Follow these rules, follow these formulas and you’ll be more innovative.” There are ways to structure things that allow innovative people to work, but generally, your personality is what makes you an inventor more than just an engineer who has gone to school, gotten the great grades, knows how to design things, whatever, [inaudible 00:11:49] says the same thing, but your personality is one who wants to innovate and be creative your whole life, and come up with new things.

 

 

You get an idea. You want to run inside a laboratory or do something, or write a program, and test it out, and see if you can show other people. Is this idea real? Could it possibly be made? Could it work? That’s an inventor thing. You have to recognize that in people, and it’s very important, but very often inventors, “Oh, here’s an idea I have, a neat thing. It’ll help my life at home. It’ll impress my friends.” You build it, and it isn’t worth money. It isn’t always worth money, but it’s that type of personality has to be managed well.

 

David Orban:
In a large company, what is important is to recognize those people and protect them so that they can do their thing.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yes. Although, to some extent, like I described, the inventor sort of thinks of an idea and wants to run in single-handedly. Doesn’t want to go through all the bureaucracy and steps, and have lots of people put in forms. “I want to prove my idea.” Then, developing it into a product takes a lot of engineering and a lot of engineers and other types of people than myself. The inventor’s that way. Partly that sort of person needs a little bit of freedom, of independence.

 

 

Back in the day when I worked at Hewlett Packard, I saw that we had Hewlett Packard divisions, placed out in places like Colorado, where people admired their environment. It was beautiful work. I’d go out and visit those divisions. The people out there thought independently, came up with their own ideas for products, and how to make them good, and there was less focus, like a campus. Hewlett and Packard themselves had been right on top of that company. Let great people think independently and check on them now and then. That’s how Hewlett Packard worked.

 

 

Now I’m in Silicon Valley. Every Silicon Valley company says, “We want to have a big main campus where everybody and hundreds of departments doing hundreds of different things, all are in the same building, almost.” I don’t think that works as well, to bring out the creative, innovative thinking.

 

David Orban:
This kind of separation is also what allows people to fail, to test, to experiment. Do you have examples of how you coped with this kind of iteration where you were not stopped by any show of setbacks and you just kept going?

 

Steve Wozniak:
I have unfortunately very very bad answers to that. There was about a ten-year period in my life where every single thing I tried to create that had never existed before, every one of them came through, A+, and worked out. Sometimes I started on projects and I said, “Uh oh, there’s going to be a problem later on with one of it. I’ll solve it when I get there, if it’s solvable. It might be impossible.”

 

 

Luckily I just solved them all. I don’t know, I was just … Every single thing that popped in my head was like magic pouring out of my head for about a ten-year period. I look back and I say, even I, “How did I ever think of going that way?”

 

David Orban:
This was due both because of your personality, as you said, but also because of the time and the place, that all came together to create this kind of serendipitous series.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Time and place was so important to things I’ve done in my life that made me successful, that helped the world because I grew up in Silicon Valley, from the early days. The earliest days of Silicon … It was a valley, full of trees. It’s fruit orchards as far as you could see. The buildings were starting up because the inventor of the transistor moved there. Transistor company started, spun off more transistor companies. They figured out how to make chips, more than one transistor on a piece of silicon for the same price.

 

 

Then chip companies sprung up and expanded. We were started at the earliest point in history. Everything you have today is based on the invention of the transistor. It was something like 1948, and William Shockley moved, started Shockley Labs in Mountain View, California. Silicon Valley was the heart of that. I grew up learning the old electronics at first. I had a ham radio license by 10 years old. Back in those years you had to buy a kit of parts that included vacuum tubes. You sorted all the parts into sockets and connected straps and built your transmitter and receiver, and you had to learn a lot of electronics.

 

 

I started out with that. Now transistors were around. We had a little transistor radio, the most valuable gadget of my life, a six-transistor radio. I could sleep at night and listen to music all night long, and wake up to … That was just a joy in my life. I started following transistors. My father worked at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale. It turns out the only people that could afford the first chips.

 

 

When a new technology comes about, it’s very expensive. The only people that could afford it were the military and the government. My father was working on things like, probably missiles that got launched. He wasn’t able to talk about what he did. Every rocket in those early days of the space race, if you could save one gram, you would save thousands of dollars in costs to launch it. Chips, putting six transistors on a chip instead of one transistor made it less heavy. These were important.

 

 

My father was close to the technology. He got transistors given to us, cosmetic rejects they called. My father taught me on a blackboard, how the electrons flow through transistors, and I created incredible huge science fair projects. Then chips came about. I went with my father when I was eight or nine years old to a show in San Francisco, called WestCon, where they showed all the different parts, switches and clickers and different devices for building electronics equipment. Somebody in one of the booths held up a drawing on a piece of paper, big piece of cardboard. It showed blocks and streets connecting them. He said, “This is going to be a chip with six transistors on one chip.” It might have been Gordon Moore who was showing me the first chip they were going to make.

 

 

Oh my gosh, I went home and said, “That means that we’re going to have better transistor radios in the future, six transistors, all on one chip.” My transistor radio had six transistors. My father said, “No. When technologies are new, only the military gets them. It’s only after some years, the cheap stuff falls out and that’s what we get for our little products in the home, home appliances.” I said, “Darn. Darn.” I always wanted the home stuff to be more important. Well, now with personal computers, it is.

 

David Orban:
Today we have billions of transistors on a single chip.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yeah, ten billion, tens of billions now.

 

David Orban:
If you were to sit down at a desk and try to design the latest chips by hand, you-

 

Steve Wozniak:
Couldn’t.

 

David Orban:
… would not do it.

 

Steve Wozniak:
No, it’s just like all the software that’s in your products. You can’t really go in and analyze it and change it. You can’t even find if there are cyber security flaws, if somebody has snuck something in and you don’t know about, that doesn’t know the way you want. You have no way to analyze it because it’s so far beyond individual people to get to and to find. Thousands of lines of code, and then we got ten billion transistors, the process of laying out the chips.

 

 

In the early days of chips when we were making chips at Hewlett Packard that had 1,000 to 2,000 transistors on them, not ten billion like today, I actually did some chip layout for some test chips. You could design a test chip with a few transistors by hand, but no, eventually it had to be computers that would crank it out and the design became software oriented. Today no one person could do that. Now, yes, a couple of hackers [inaudible 00:19:25] have gone in their kitchen and heat-treated silicon the right way and put certain gases around it. A couple of them have managed to create the smallest tiniest chip you could ever have, two transistors doing some function.

 

 

I admire that, but on your own nowadays you’re out of it. You’ve got to have all the equipment. Pretty much it’s become an art of learning how to type commands, the right commands that tell the computers how to design the chips, all the little alleyways and lights and the traces on the chip of silicon.

 

David Orban:
Co-evolving with the technology that provides us better tools to invent even better technology is what has been happening, because you were [inaudible 00:20:09] and you were not heating the fire by yourself. You didn’t have an oven to have the metals. You were also leveraging existing technology to do what you were doing.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yes. Things that are built on each other, think about mathematics. You learn some low level adding, subtracting. Then you learn how to multiply. You work your way up, way up in the complicated, and eventually the calculus and beyond. A lot of these products are like that. Every new chip is based on what we’ve known before. Let’s shrink it, make it smaller, make it a little better, put in some new materials, some new elements that’ll make it work faster.

 

 

Every stage is built on the prior stage. When you have things that are built on a prior stage, it grows exponentially, hence Moore’s Law, exponential growth. Anything that is based on something before, until you hit a limit.

 

David Orban:
At Singularity University, we eat and breathe that, as well as we believe that the technology that we can design tomorrow allows everybody to benefit. It is not a win-lose proposition. It is not a zero sum game. That is why your dreams of social change and social transformation are becoming real.

 

Steve Wozniak:
That gets back to the heart of open source. Open source says, “Here is what we have created. Here is how we created everything. Here’s our design.” You can look at it, study it and figure out ways to enhance it, or make it different for your own purposes. That’s how something can grow upon each other. You’re going to reach an end point sooner.

 

David Orban:
At the beginning the mobile phone was a [inaudible 00:21:54] status symbol. You would lay on your Ferrari and hold this huge brick against your head for ten minutes until you fried it. Everybody would go like, “Oh, he has a mobile phone.” Today billions of people emancipate and franchise themselves through the global connections that the smartphones create. Exactly ten years ago the iPhone started that revolution.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yeah. When we started the company, of course, we didn’t really have cellular phones even. Did we know that cellular phones were going to come about? Did we know the internet was going to come about? It’s a lot. If what we thought, the computers were going to be useful was true, it probably would have been a very low level industry compared to what we became. There were smartphones before. I was on the board of companies that made smartphones that had little apps that were true internet, that could get to everything there, but they just didn’t strike a feeling in people, “This is a revolution.”

 

 

The iPhone was more successful because of timing than anything else. The timing of the iPhone was around the time that the cellular carriers started going from 2G to 3G, and then to 4G. It really made our mobile web life possible.

 

David Orban:
As well as the chips who were powerful enough so that they could be wasted in aesthetics and usability, things that hardcore computer and hardware people may not consider as necessary. If you had to code at a lower level, then you had to code at a lower level but in order to achieve widespread consumer adoption, the user experience was really really very important.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Well, yes. When you think about it, engineer develops something. Engineer says, “I can put this feature in. I have another idea. I’m going to put this in.” Another engineer has a different idea, and you get a complicated messy product. It’s like back in those days I would look at all these remote controls from Japan when we only had televisions and VCRs. They’d be so full of buttons that you couldn’t understand. It was a mess.

 

 

The iPhone, one of the brilliances of the iPhone was a, by having all one screen. That in itself is a type of elegant simplicity, which is what Steve Jobs was all about. Not only that, Steve himself kept the product secret. Very important to keep a product secret. When people are talking, criticizing what you’re doing as you’re doing it, it’s as bad as running a country. Steve Jobs said every little feature on this phone, it had to work for him. It had to be the device he wanted as a phone, not all the other cell phones out there. Every little detail, he nitpicked and made so nice that it wasn’t complicated. It wasn’t unusable. It wasn’t bulky. It didn’t seem offensive. That’s a beauty.

 

 

The best products in the world, very often when I look back I see a person behind them, one person that wanted that product for themselves. Say, an example would be the Apple II computer. Another one would be the iPhone. Or, look at Elon Musk. Why would any engineer want to build an electric car at large, when the battery cost is so prohibitive? Elon Musk had a large family. He needed a large car. It turned out that by making the car beautiful and simple and elegant and minimal, that it wound up being not only beautiful for his own life, but for a lot of other people’s. We have a great stride towards the real future.

 

David Orban:
Innovation needs an environment, a place, a time but is there a role for regulation? Or innovation should be free and unfettered?

 

Steve Wozniak:
There is always a role for regulation. I’ve thought about this quite a bit. The subject comes up. People are, “Oh, unregulated is always the best way to go.” Oh, what it did to our electricity rates in California once when we unregulated them and all of the electricity suppliers played games with the pricing. Some people say that, “No.” One of the things is that the people who say regulation should go want free trade to rule the day. That’s good. That’s basically where our heart starts at.

 

 

If you want to look at examples, the United States healthcare system is the most privatized healthcare system in the modern world. It returns the lowest results at the highest prices. That’s one example swamps all the others you can come up with. Regulation does have a place in life or even governments running things. Now, I look at our constitution in the United States. We have a Bill of Rights that guarantees us things like free speech and privacy in our home and rights to guns too. It guarantees certain things, but the way it’s written it says, “Government shall not pass as law prohibiting something.” Government shall not pass a law inhibiting something from being done.

 

 

It basically says government is regulated not to do a bunch of bad things for people. If you put a regulation on a company and say, “Your company is being regulated and watched so that it doesn’t take advantage and do bad things for the real people, which is what we’re supposed to be about.” I believe in that, except some extent of regulation. I live in the one part of Silicon Valley that has no broadband. It had a lousy phone company.

 

 

All my life, back decades ago, 40 years ago in college I knew that that phone company was one of the worst in the country, and unfortunately that’s where I live now. No broadband. When I download an iTunes movie, it takes seven hours. This happens when you have an unregulated monopoly. There is no consensus in the United States that you deserve broadband wherever you live. When I grew up, there was regulation that said there’s a monopoly phone company. Everyone is entitled to a phone. No matter where you live, you have to be granted a phone at a certain price, a phone line.

 

 

They don’t apply that to broadband. Seven hours to download an iTunes movie? Many times my wife and I, multiple times we would drive in our car down to the local Apple Store in town, five minutes away. We’d park at midnight. We’d get onto the Apple Store network and we’d use it to download stuff to my iPhones all night long till 6:30 in the morning. I have done that myself. It’s true.

 

 

Recently we did get a very high priced radio connection so we have a little better internet in our home.

 

David Orban:
Actually that happens in Italy a lot too.

 

Steve Wozniak:
How do you keep life good for the general people? I always want to be for all the people.

 

David Orban:
There are a lot of things that seem to be going on. Maybe it was the case when Leonardo or Michelangelo were going through their own technological revolutions 500 years ago, but it truly seems that the global interconnected world today, whether in China or Silicon Valley or in Europe is producing innovations at a faster rate. We learn about them, and then we can get excited about them, create startups, start implementing these ideas, robotics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning, so much. What are the things that are most exciting to you these days?

 

Steve Wozniak:
Well, of course every new product might be exciting to me. My favorite two pieces of technology right now are … I have a Tesla, but I have a much less expensive, Chevrolet Bolt EV. It’s an electric vehicle and it has a large enough battery I can drive anywhere in the United States with it, but it’s lower cost and does the same thing. It’s the way I thought as an engineer. That’s exciting to me. I get so much use out of it. It wound up with more space inside. It’s a smaller car, easy to park, more space inside to put things than a Tesla has, better radio, better sounding radio, an air conditioner that actually works.

 

 

I’m excited about that, and my Apple Watch, just saves me a lot of time. These are dinky little things. These aren’t big major things that change your life. The latest technology that comes out is always significant to me. I think about where it’s going. I think all the artificial intelligence. Software is converging and getting better and better. Machines that learn are really finally starting to show up where we can have enough code and enough chips and hardware to make a machine that actually sits there and studies a video game, and after one hour it’s better than any human. Or it studies a game of Go and after some months, it can beat any human at a very complicated game like Go.

 

 

These are learning machines. Now, they aren’t intelligence like a human. A human had to tell the machine, “Here is your job.” No machine has ever been thought of, “I’ll sit around and I will think out here is my job to do.” That’s what singularity theoretically might bring us, machines that eventually learn to design better machines and teach machines. Once they get up to that level that they can teach themselves things, “Here’s something I’d like to do. Let me think about a method to do it. I will do it.”

 

 

If machines reach that level, oh my gosh, then we don’t know the future beyond. We don’t know the future beyond. I believe though that this idea, this fear of machines versus humans, I’ve thought about it my whole life. It’s been important. For a while I got scared. What if machines do better than our brain? What if a machine that a company ran totally with computers, no humans at all, no CEO, no executive staff, what if they do better economically? I got scared by that thought but then I backed off and I said, “We’re only going to really be making machines that help us.” They’re going to learn to be partners of humans and they couldn’t control the world.

 

 

You have this idea, “Oh my gosh, the new species.” Now it’s computers. One computer would have to say, “I want to build a car. I have to direct some other computers to start building factories.” They talk to other computers saying, “We need certain kind of materials,” talk to other computers saying, “We need to process [inaudible 00:32:14],” talk to other computers and robots that go out and dig the ores.

 

 

Wait a minute. That’s going to take hundreds of years to undo all the physical infrastructure of the country. Really these machines are going to be helpful to humans for as far as I can see for now. That’s my opinion. Everything we ever build in electronics, this will help somebody. It’ll make a job easier. It’ll make it simpler. It’ll make it better. We’re only building machines to help us live. It’s like, everything’s going to be taken care of for us, cheap clothing, homes, cars, movies, everything we want in life and we’ll just be like the family dog. I get everything and I don’t have to do anything.

 

David Orban:
You don’t think that the conversations around how to rethink the social contract, if technological and employment is going to creep up and up and up and ever more people will throw in the towel. They will say, “I learned a new job and then I retrained for a new job, and then another one still but I cannot keep up.” Don’t you think that those conversations should already be happening?

 

Steve Wozniak:
Sure. People worry that artificial intelligence technology is supplanting a lot of jobs and our ability to build robots to do the jobs. That’s a worry of mine. Heck, every computer update, every iPhone update drives me crazy. Where did they move this to? Why did they change something? I used to operate one way and now it’s another. There’s frustrating sides with every new technology, every bit of change. When I was young I saw that my father explained to me. There come a lot of negative, sometimes, with the positives. If we keep working, someday we’ll have a nicer, easier, better life.

 

 

I decided that it was worth the negatives, even if you investigate the atom and you come up with the atomic bomb. There’s something in us, in our brain. When we’re born, we’re creative. We’re trying to explore the world, figure out how it works and how can I make something new. That’s not something that you say, “Here’s something I’ve been taught, that I should do.” It’s natural and it’s in our brain. If it’s in our brain, there’s a reason for it, whatever the reason, evolution, whatever you want to call it. It causes us to do it.

 

 

It must be we’re on the right path to create this better change. Makes life easier for ourselves when, like you said, there’s some worries. People say, “Oh my gosh, all these jobs are going to go away. Do we have time to learn new occupations, occupations of building robots, occupations of writing the software to control them, occupations of this and that?” I just think we’ve always had that fear my entire life. It just hasn’t been expressed as strongly until now but it’s really always happened, and jobs have gone away and sometimes they don’t come back.

 

David Orban:
There is another set of technologies. We mentioned a bunch just a few minutes ago, that are independent and not correlated, but are still pointing in the same direction, towards decentralization. Whether it is photovoltaics as opposed to centralized gas or carbon or oil generating energy and electricity, 3D printing for manufacturing. Anybody can have a 3D printer in their home. Blockchain technologies that recently, with Bitcoin and others you mentioned that you were curious about.

 

 

Do you think that these will lead to a new kind of enterprise, a new kind of invention and creativity, where people aggregate, that are not necessarily geographically close together like it used to be in the Silicon Valley of 40 years ago?

 

Steve Wozniak:
I myself have always believed in decentralization of anything in life as much as we can, to a reasonable extent. The reason is, if it conglomerates all in one place, you wind up with monopoly, people making the choices for you, and not for yourself. It’s like the idea of net neutrality. You wind up with these huge unicorns and big companies. Look at Google. Google makes all its money off of data that I give Google about me, what browser, links I go to and what I email to people and all that. I don’t get to share any of the revenues. I can give them the data and they get all the profits. They should share it with me.

 

 

I’m always against the big wealthy powerful against the small little guy. I always like to support the underdogs, the little guys. Decentralization lets a lot of little people have their place in the world. 3D printing, it’s hard to say if 3D printing applies mainly to companies yet, even though people could get their own 3D printer and impress their friends, “Look what I built. Look what I built. Look what I built.” Occasionally you see real nice jobs coming out of it. The makers, the young children learn to use the [inaudible 00:36:54] and create little projects all over the place.

 

 

I go to science fairs and it’s unbelievable with the sensors they’ve got and the motor controls. These are the people that are going to be important in the future. We are always going to manufacture physical goods for human beings. Manufacturing, basically the transport of materials and assembly and all that, and now it’s all becoming robotics, pretty much driven by electrical energy and hydraulics and all. That’s an important field to be into.

 

 

Bitcoin, what I like about blockchain technology is it determines an amount of value that is mathematically constant. It’s a mathematical formula. You cannot create more than a certain number of Bitcoin ever. The fact is, all the transactions and the fact that your Bitcoin is real and has value is traced through the blockchain. The blockchain is stored out in thousands of points on the internet. It’s not like one place has all the control over everything. It’s like 1,000 places have all the control and all the knowledge.

 

 

I like that. I feel that that’s a type of protection. I also believe it’ll probably go away, if it ever becomes economically important and governments will tax it or take control of it or make it illegal or something. Governments are a lot of times fighting the little independent groups that might have something new that’s out of control of the government. We snuck our personal computers through.

 

David Orban:
Also, smartphones got into large enterprises mostly from the bottom.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Right.

 

David Orban:
The IT departments didn’t even realize, and it was already too late. Everybody were accessing their emails through smartphones, or exchanging documents so they had to catch up. It was from the bottom.

 

Steve Wozniak:
What you’re saying though is an example that once you have a lot of these distributed independent technology is becoming useful. Even personal computers, going into businesses in the early days, running spreadsheets locally rather than having them rely on the multimillion dollar company computer. Eventually the company gets control over it and tries to say, “No, here’s how it will be used and only in these ways and only under our observation and control.” That tends to happen anyway. The current example today, but not necessarily the future.

 

David Orban:
You mentioned kids and science fairs. There is an analogy for the role of teachers who should stimulate creativity, experimentation, but they are in a position of authority and they are afraid that they show that they are as ignorant about the new things as the kids are, that this relationship will be destroyed on one hand. On the other hand, companies where top management has to inspire middle management and the employees, but they don’t know what is going to happen in the future either.

 

 

How can teachers on one side, top management on the other side encourage experimentation and creativity while not being sucked up into this whirlwind of uncertainty?

 

Steve Wozniak:
Well, I can talk about education quite a bit. When I was very young, I told my father I would be an electrical engineer, and second, I would be a fifth grade teacher, elementary school, young kids like myself at the time because the teachers were so important in giving us the keys to a great future. Eventually I had kids and I was giving lots of computers to schools. If you have a lot of money and you give money, that doesn’t have meaning. It’s not a personal sacrifice. It doesn’t stand for what you believe in your heart.

 

 

I started teaching and I went and I taught for eight years. I worked up to about seven days a week in the local public schools, local public schools, elementary school, middle school students, very young students how to use the computer, how to apply it to everything you ever learn in class. I thought about this. What’s wrong with the class?

 

 

I discovered that the most important thing was class size. One good teacher, one student can never fail, but a teacher can have maybe six students and be very good with them, seventeen. When you get 30 students in a class, one teacher has to have such tight restrictive control. Because of where I came from, I wanted my own children and others, I wanted to inspire creativity as the most important thing for the future, thinking differently, thinking about ways that it hasn’t been done before and not to be said, “Sorry, you get a bad grade. You are not smart. You don’t have the same answer as everyone else.”

 

 

Same answer as everyone else is not creativity but that’s what gets us called smart. I thought about that a lot. Class size was the most important thing. California, where I live, was 50th out of 50 states in the United States. California was 50th in class size, meaning the largest classes. It had to do with some political, proposition 13, way back decades ago. Mississippi was way behind California even. California was 47th in dollars per student and 43rd in computers per student. How could our rich state be like that?

 

 

You could have an election. Cupertino, the home of Apple Computer, has always been known for great schools, great public schools. I spent the money to send postcards to everybody in Cupertino about an election to have higher property taxes so our schools could have more money. We got 64% of the vote and failed. The proposition said you had to have two thirds super majority, 67%. I did it another year and it failed in Cupertino. I did it in my town, Los Gatos. We passed it and Cupertino passed it. Two cities in the San Francisco area, two cities in that whole region have had a little higher money for schools all these 20-some years. When I drive by those school districts, what do I see? Brightly painted buildings and new stadiums.

 

 

I don’t really see smarter, more creative kids coming out. Computers, I thought computers were going to save the schools, oh my gosh. You can sit down at a computer and get told immediately is your answer’s right or wrong. You can correct it. You can run programs, but I don’t see kids coming out any smarter. The computers went in the school, but the system of school is, “You learn these pages on Monday, these pages on Tuesday, these pages on Wednesday.” It’s very much like a structured company where you’ve got projects and they have certain deadlines, certain things have to be met on certain dates exactly. You don’t have the freedom.

 

 

If somebody gets very excited about something in school, let’s say somebody at a young age got excited about chemistry or writing, could they say, “Oh my gosh, I just want to do chemistry and learn more and more of it.” Your teacher couldn’t teach it to you. They only know one level of chemistry. There’s online courses now, Salman Kahn and others. There are online courses that theoretically you can go as far as you want to, but only some people … I was very shy, independent. I would learn this way from books, from other material, not from human being teachers.

 

 

Most people want human being teachers. The computers are still not like human beings. It’s electronic textbook, but it’s not like a human being that can inspire me, that understands me, looks at my facial expression, knows my family, knows what’s important to me in life, knows what jots our life, talks and looks at me and knows when to break and lets me go as far as I want in my own directions. I’m hoping that some day we get the schools that are like your third year of college. You pick your major. You go off and study it as much as you want to. You could be ten years old and learn all the way through college, college mathematics or chemistry, all in one, two years if you wanted to, if you wanted to just do that.

 

 

We’re encouraged by it. Let people go, and things I’m not interested in and I don’t like and don’t have meaning to my heart, let me skip those till later or some other way in life. That’s what I’m for. That probably applies to managing companies and bringing out creativity. First of all, if you have very tight rules, you will exactly behave and do things by a certain set of rules and structure and management and reporting and all this, that fights creativity and coming up with ideas that are totally different than what our company’s doing right now.

 

 

Independent little groups is the best way. Apple’s been known for having independent secret little groups going on in different buildings that I wouldn’t even know about and working on projects to see if we can create something good out of it.

 

David Orban:
One of the great gifts of Silicon Valley to the world is the startup model, inventing new enterprises starting from very small risk-taking groups and virtual circle of venture capital investment that has its payday after five or ten years at an IPO, at an exit. That took quite some time to be adopted by other countries, the UK and France and Italy and many many others who imagined that they could become the next Silicon Valley. Very mixed results.

 

 

Even Silicon Valley today with the obsession for unicorns, startups that are valued at a billion dollars or more, seems to delay the closing of this virtual circle. While simultaneously it is cheaper and cheaper to start a new company. In the app economy, literally, a high school kid can create something that will earn millions of dollars, just by coding a new cool app that people will download on their phones. Where do you see that Silicon Valley model evolving? What could other countries learn from it?

 

Steve Wozniak:
Yeah. All over the world people want to evolve a Silicon Valley model. They come, they study Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley’s had 60 years of growing it. That doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Some of the great new hits that change our life, important hardware products, important software products come from places all over the world unexpectedly, not a huge, like one after another after another from one area but things like Arduino processors and Raspberry Pies. Obviously you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to have a big success in the digital world. Look at Microsoft who is never really starting there.

 

 

The startup mentality, when you’re investing in a startup, you look at the idea. How much could this idea be worth? Yes, the business people can write business plans and spreadsheets and analysis and forecasts and, “This model looks very good. Maybe it even looks like a unicorn.” You know what? You’d better make sure that on the starting team there’s a real good marketing understanding. I’ve already said that the best marketing is when it’s for yourself and you want it to be perfect and splendid.

 

 

The marketing is so important to understand what it’s worth to real users. It can’t just be something beneficial that does something god for people. It has to be something that they would trade off alternatives to make decisions to use, but you should always look for engineering on the startup team. I think that investors should expect a working model, even if it’s a virtual model on a TV screen, a working model that they can play with to some extent and see how it works. Because, first of all, the startup people that have founded it, they’re going to be worth more. They’ve told their story better. It’s more convincing and the value of what they have is more obvious and they’ll probably own more of it, which I’m for.

 

 

I’d say don’t look for a company that says, “Here’s our plan. When it’s time and we get funded, then we will go buy some engineers anywhere in the world, be it India, Russia,” wherever engineers are that are good. I don’t believe in that. I think that engineers are the most creative people. They’ve worked their entire life, solving problems. Today in the digital world, it’s making this long series of connections in the head and getting them straight, because one mistake can make a product not work. You just get into the habit of really thinking things out in detail. That’s a sort of person that will come up with better ideas for your new product to make it really exceptional and great, and maybe a unicorn.

 

 

They’ll think, “Here’s something else we could do. I realize how we can do it almost with no extra dollars in cost.”

 

David Orban:
In California, there is a lot of conversations and still a lot to be done but at least the conversations are happening about the roles of women and the contributions that they can make and they should be allowed to make, afforded the spaces to thrive, whether in engineering, or in venture capital or in any other economic area.

 

 

I think it was yesterday or a couple of days ago there was a photo circulating on social media in Italy where a bunch of males were sitting in a panel, politicians if I’m not mistaken, and it was raining. It was five or six of them. Behind each of them there was somebody holding an umbrella so that they wouldn’t get wet. All the males were speaking on a panel, and all the people holding the umbrella were women. It was horrible, a very clear representation of things that are not right.

 

 

What would your message be, and I mean we are two males so maybe we should just shut up, but what is your message to those countries and to those cultures where these conversations are not happening yet?

 

Steve Wozniak:
We look to enterprises, could be business, could be government. We look to enterprises as, “You have to do something differently to get around this problem.” As far as pay equity, Apple Computer is the first of all the technology companies to achieve pay equity by gender. That’s what we say, but it’s so deep in the culture. Here’s what makes me think that way. After Apple was successful, I went back to college to get my degree under a fake name because I was too well known by then.

 

 

My Berkeley diploma says, “Rocky Raccoon Clark.” That was the name I used. When I went back, and Berkeley is a very popular engineering school for people that have been trained in mathematics their whole life from Eastern Asia. Three fourths of the people were from Eastern Asian countries like Japan, China and Taiwan, and India. I noticed that among them, the gender distribution was 50:50 in engineering, in computer science. Among the whites it was 90:10, 90 males to 10 whites. It’s deeper in the culture. It’s long before they ever got to college.

 

 

When I taught classes, I saw similar things. Girls and boys would be equal in understanding what’s going on in their computer and how to use it around 10 years old, 11 years old. Some were around 12 years old. They’re in middle school. They’re in social influences. The girls who knew the answer wouldn’t want to raise their hand anymore. They wouldn’t want to. I couldn’t explain it. It obviously doesn’t come from me, the teacher, and I don’t have a solution for it. It’s just deep in our culture. It’s the movies that we have and the way you’re brought up and what you’re told, taught in beginning school and by your parents about how families are set up and what you see. It has to change gradually. It’ll take a long time.

 

David Orban:
Let’s have more movies like Wonder Woman.

 

Steve Wozniak:
I can’t run into anyone hardly, at least that I know, that I favor, and thinks like me that doesn’t want it to be totally equal. In engineering especially, women have obviously just as good a mind as men. In school teachers will often say the girls are always smarter. One of the reasons I thought I was really good, going to be in the computers and math and all, was in third grade. The teacher said I was the first time ever that a boy beat the girls on multiplication flashcards.

 

 

The capability is there. We don’t have a logical explanation. Those of us who always like things to be explained logically, you get an idea in your head and sometimes decades later things start to change and women get the vote, or blacks get the vote. I think it will happen but very very slowly and gradually.

 

David Orban:
In our conversation, which is now ending, we really mentioned a lot of things, governance, decentralization, startup culture, gender inequality, the future of work, robotics, AI. Really, I enjoyed it a lot. In Italy there is a tendency of underestimating our potential. That is why the opening talk which I don’t know whether you heard was very inspiring because it really highlighted automotive, tourism, food as three areas of excellence, and there are many others as well where Italy thrives and is really world class.

 

 

As a last question, what is your message as somebody visiting Italy and knowing it the way you know, to inspire and to encourage Italian enterprises, entrepreneurs, startups to believe in themselves and in their capabilities?

 

Steve Wozniak:
One of the things is to trust your thinking. You’ve seen a lot of examples in your life of other industries. Do any of those apply? Does the past predict the future on a trend line? Spot the trends. Try to predict the future is number one, and then think, “How does that change existing businesses?” Car companies are technology, but almost every car manufacturer is working on self-driving cars and electric vehicles. Don’t get left behind. Don’t be left out like Blackberry or Nokia, and change too late or say, “Oh, we’ll be able to scramble and move quickly.” Be there early. Obviously self-driving cars are going to influence everything from infrastructure and roads to insurance.

 

 

Then you’ve got things like the effect on shopping malls. In the United States shopping malls are going down. There’s a lot of empty ones. A lot of huge huge store chains are in trouble and bankruptcy. They’ve got to adapt to the digital world, where people can just go online, order something and have it delivered to their home the next day. There’s got to be other purposes and ways that the stores and the malls …

 

 

Think about where the future is, how can we be early on to innovate in there. Almost everyone carries a smartphone now and you can take advantage of those in at least places where people have smartphones and say, “Okay, retail for example. You’re walking through and some beacons can notify you of some special sales or things you might want.”

 

 

Also there’s technologies that don’t exist yet nobody’s really thinking of. We’re talking about better and better visual presentation and virtual reality and augmented reality if we can ever get the bandwidth for it. Maybe we’ll walk around someday wearing a little thing like Google Glass that’s looking and telling us, “There’s a cake store and you have a birthday coming up for someone. You’d better go buy a cake.” Assistants, all the assistants are going to get better and better.

 

 

Understanding my voice. I want to live as a human. This is another thing. You want to live as a human being, and the human’s more important than the technology. I always thought this way in Apple. Everything we did, at that stage of technology development emphasized the way human beings worked over the others. We had a device, a tablet once you could hand-write with your human muscles. If you pressed a button, if you wrote something about a calendar entry, pressed a button, it would pop up the calendar and put your entry in place. It was going to be 10 years before Google did this sort of thing with Google Calendar, maybe 12 years.

 

 

These are thinking about the human being living in a human way. Obviously speaking to our devices now is my favorite way of doing anything, “Hey, Siri, text Janet. I’m on stage right now.” Just the easiest, simplest ways to get things done, speaking. Sometimes when I speak, I find that my phones don’t understand me. Maybe I’ll pull up the other platform Android and it will understand a little better. It’s not the way that I would speak to a human being always. When it works, you’re happy, and when it doesn’t work, you’re frustrated. We’ve got to keep working on that. That’s one of the big things coming up.

 

David Orban:
All right.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Real, make the machines like real humans.

 

David Orban:
Thank you very much. This has been a wonderful conversation. I hope our guests enjoyed it as well.

 

Steve Wozniak:
Thanks. Thank you.

 

David Orban:
Thank you.

 

Steve Wozniak:
My pleasure.