Apple co-founder and industry icon Steve Wozniak believes personal computers need to more human to become truly personal.
Apple co-founder Steve 'Woz' Wozniak believes that natural voice commands are key to the future of consumer technology (Reuters)
Back in the early 1990s Steve Wozniak was in an airport when he pulled an Apple Newton out of his bag. It was the first time he had used the PDA device and using the stylus, he wrote in his own handwriting:
"Sarah [his daughter], dentist, Tuesday, 2pm."
He tapped the Assist button and it automatically opened the calendar app on Tuesday at 2pm, added in the word "dentist" and grabbed Sarah's details from his contacts list.
It was a moment which would change Wozniak's perception of computing forever. "That was the first time in my life I had seen a computer understand... I had written something for a human, and the computer understood it."
Fast-forward 20 years and while the Newton may be long obsolete, Wozniak still wants the same thing - a computer that understand him; a computer that will be his "best friend."
The computers we talk about today are not what we have typically viewed as computers for the last 20 years. They are the small but incredibly powerful smartphones and tablets which we carry around in our pockets and bags wherever we go.
The method of interaction with these devices has also changed, with voice now used as the 'human' way of interacting.
For Wozniak, Siri has long been his favourite app, even before it was acquired by Apple.
Closer than ever
He says that we are now closer than ever to the technology we use on a daily basis but to move things forward Wozniak says that Apple needs to open up Siri to third-party developers so that voice can become ubiquitous across the system.
Wozniak, who was speaking at the Apps World conference in London on Wednesday, says the next logical step in bringing technology even closer is by making it wearable, where you have access to what you want, when you want, at all times.
Smartwatches such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony Smartwatch 2 are just the first wave of a technology which could revolutionise the way we interact and communicate in the coming years.
Wozniak says that what he wants on his wrist is a "knowledge navigator" but recognises that "new ideas are very hard to come up with." He says that having just some functions of a phone on your wrist - as the current generation of devices do - is not enough: "I want a wearable phone."
Wozniak also spoke about the potential for computers to become as, if not more, intelligent than humans. He said that for years he dismissed the idea out-of-hand, and mentioned futurist Ray Kurzweil's singularity theory which speculates that there will be a moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence.
While Wozniak doesn't believe this "moment" will come any time in the next 20 years, he now concedes that these machines could equal or surpass human intelligence in the next "20 to 200 years."
He says he has seen many signs in recent years to make him change his beliefs on the theory.
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