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Steve Wozniak ponders what it will take to make robots the next PC

Steve "Woz" Wozniak believes the development of robotics today parallels to the development of the personal computer over 30 years ago.  Given Woz's influence on the PC revolution during the lat 1980s and early 1990s, he might just be onto something.

In 1976, Wozniak founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs, after dropping out of the University of California, Berkley the year before.  Apple would go on to become the first computer manufacturing giant with its line of easy to use and program, relatively "friendly" computers.  During its years of wild success and eventual failure, Apple set many industry archetypes about what to do and what not to do that are still heeded and emulated today.

Wozniak has no formal training in robotics.  He doesn't have a lot of money -- relative to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. But what he lacks in finances and knowledge he more than makes up for in clout.

While Wozniak announced his lack of intentions for a robotics business venture, he spoke at a recent event hosted by ConnectWise and talked about his increasing interest in AI and what will work -- and what won't.

He sees ease of programming as the greatest foundation for success of robotic devices.  He thinks that robotic machines need to be made to be able to be easily trained to do useful tasks by their user, much like how the Apple computers could be user programmed in BASIC.  Complex tasks take too much time to program, and just aren't as valuable to the end user he feels.  He also sees simple behaviors that attempt to mimic human reactions or other non-utility based small functions as without merit.

"People want things that are useful as opposed to things that do a lot of little things that we call artificial intelligence."

Steve has become very interested in robotics in recent years, possibly after he started judging FIRST robotics competitions, a large international robotics league, which has teams at high schools across the country.

One thing about robotics that Wozniak feels strongly about is that he does not think that robots will ever reach true artificial intelligence.  In another interview Woz explained why he does not think we will ever see this true artificial intelligence -- robots capable of learning.  He elaborates:
"These robots will kind of do one thing well, but we never will see a robot that makes a cup of coffee, never. I don't believe we will ever see it.  Think of the steps that a human being has to do to make a cup of coffee and you have covered basically 10, 20 years of your lifetime just to learn it. So for a computer to do it the same way, it has to go through the same learning, walking to a house using some kind of optical with a vision system, stepping around and opening the door properly, going down the wrong way, going back, finding the kitchen, detecting what might be a coffee machine. You can't program these things, you have to learn it, and you have to watch how other people make coffee. ... This is a kind of logic that the human brain does just to make a cup of coffee. We will never ever have artificial intelligence. Your pet, for example, your pet is smarter than any computer."
According to Woz's comments, fantastic robots such as those found in motion pictures such as Terminator or The Matrix are unlikely to evolve anytime soon -- if ever.

Wozniak has not expressed any solid plans to implement his robotics ideas, though he does currently own Aquicor Technology, a shell company which acquires and develops other technology companies.

For a multimillionaire inventor who has made a piece of history, Woz still has many unfulfilled dreams which he is pursuing, including furthering the field of robotics.  He stays grounded in everyday life though, and has lots of practical goals as well.  One of these yet to be fulfilled goals -- to score 750,000 points on Game Boy Tetris.




"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs




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