Tech legend Steve Wozniak spoke to a packed ballroom during a joint keynote address (sitting in a chair, however, it was more like a casual chat) yesterday at the Automate and ProMat shows in Chicago. The cofounder of Apple Inc. and personal computer industry pioneer shared his views on the current and future state of technology.
Among other things, "The Woz" said that “inventors” (visionaries and dreamers) are not the same as traditional “engineers” and should be treated differently by corporate America. In fact, he believes that inventors should be in regular, direct contact with CEOs.
Wozniak also encouraged manufacturers to beat their competition by investing in both “revolutionary” and “disruptive” technology. And, he urged attendees to “not be afraid to build things just for fun,” because you can learn a lot by examining what works and what doesn’t.”
At the end of his 45-minute ramble, Wozniak answered a few questions submitted by the audience. Most people asked about his self-obsession with watches and autonomous cars, or the antics of his late business partner, Steve Jobs.
I took the opportunity to ask the Woz to predict the future of robotics. More specifically, I asked him if humanoid robots will ever become as ubiquitous as such can’t-live-without-it technology as laptop computers and smartphones.
Wozniak said he’s excited by the endless possibilities of humanoids. And, he expects to see the machines become a common sight in homes and factories in the near future. However, some areas still need further refinement and development, such as voice recognition, gesture recognition and artificial intelligence.
Unfortunately, Wozniak also admitted that the next generation of robots will probably take away some jobs from humans when they are safe, reliable and competitively priced.
On the lighter side, the Woz said he would love to have a robot in his garage that could clean his car every evening. And, he challenged some entrepreneur to create a robot that can walk into his house in Silicon Valley and brew a perfect cup of coffee. Wozniak said that should be the goal of some 15-year-old inventor out there.